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This week, the Senate began debate on the immigration reform bill. If you’ve been watching, you’re seeing just how complicated the process in the Senate can be. It’s subject to a lot of delaying tactics and procedural games. As you can imagine, opponents of reform–led by Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL)–are using every possible tactic to slow things down.
Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to finish debate on the bill before the July 4th recess, which begins on June 29th. As that date approaches, we’ll hear opponents whine that they didn’t have time for a full debate. But that’s actually because Jeff Sessions and his anti-immigrant posse are currently obstructing the process at every opportunity.
Sessions’ latest tactic is concern-trolling that things are moving too fast. From Politico:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) warned about taking votes too quickly on changing the massive bill, as Democrats were hoping to begin that process today.
“We’ve got to be careful. These amendments represent important changes to an important piece of legislation and we can’t just throw up a bunch of amendments here at the beginning,” Sessions said. “People haven’t had time to digest them.”
But too much delay could threaten Congress’s July 4th getaway. The chamber is expected to recess that week — and Reid hopes to have the bill passed by then.
This is just another way for Sessions to slow things down. Sessions is on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He already sat through several hearings and three weeks of markup with many of these same amendments. It’s hard to understand how he can credibly claim that he does not yet grasp the issue enough. Of course, Sessions’ goal isn’t to understand the bill–it’s to delay it (and kill it).
This week, Sessions wouldn’t let several amendments get votes on the Senate floor. Undoubtedly, next week he will complain that not enough amendments have been considered. Add this to his recent distortions, like that recent claim that “The federal government has reached a point now where virtually no one is being deported except those being convicted of serious crimes” (a stunningly false claim in light of the record-high 409,000 immigrants deported last fiscal year).
Republicans have demanded an open process to consider their amendments. That’s what they got from Chairman Leahy during markup and it’s what they’re getting from Majority Leader Harry Reid now on the Senate floor. But the reality is that Republican delay tactics are the thing now preventing Republicans from getting votes on their own amendments.
The longer that Sessions remains center stage for the Republican Party on immigration, the worse it is for their effort to modernize their brand image. As new polling from Latino Decisions found, anti-reform statements by Senator Sessions diminished the GOP’s standing with Latino voters by a whopping 72%. So, the more Sessions delays, the more attention he focuses on himself and his anti-immigrant obsession, the worse it is for the GOP’s future.
Jeff Sessions wants to kill the Senate reform bill. Delay is his tactic. But he shouldn’t be allowed to. As far we’re concerned, the Senate shouldn’t go home for its vacation until the immigration bill is done — and Senator Leahy has indicated he’ll stay until that happens. If Jeff Sessions wants to drag this out, he can make his colleagues watch the July 4th fireworks from the Capitol. But at some point, Sessions’ GOP colleagues should realize that his obstructions won’t stop the Senate from passing the bill — and is only causing long-tem damage.