Yesterday at DailyKos, Markos Moulitsas took a look at the amendments Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is proposing to the Senate immigration reform bill. Markos examines Hatch’s strategy in relation to the GOP’s fumbling attempts to attract Latino voters, and concludes that Hatch’s amendments could have negative impact on the GOP effort:
So the hope is that by taking immigration off the table, Republicans will be able to compete for immigrant votes on more favorable terrain — appeals to their supposed social conservatism, religiosity, and entrepreneurship. As I’ve oft written, Latinos are more favorable toward socialism than Occupy Proteserts and more pro-choice and pro-marriage equality than any other racial or ethnic group (a function of their young age — the median Latino is 18 years old). But Republicans really have no choice, they need to eat into the Democrats Latino base or render themselves irrelevant.
So with that in mind, how does Hatch’s amendments help them? If Republicans are genuinely trying to present a less hateful face to Latinos, continuing to punish these immigrants throughout their normalization process doesn’t exactly get that done. Instead, it only increases the kind of resentment and hostility that the GOP is supposedly trying to combat.
They need to decide: are they actually going to compete for Latino votes, or will they doom themselves to permanent minority status by catering to their nativists.
Of course, Hatch’s amendments won’t pass without the acquiescence of Senate Democrats. Today, after seeing the report that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “I think we have 60 votes,” for the immigration bill, Markos made the case for Democrats to hold the line:
Sen. Jon Tester is the likeliest no, and if Reid’s whip count is accurate, we’ll lose at least one of the following, if not more: Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and Heidi Heitkamp. Four Republicans from the gang of eight (John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio) and Heller would get us to 57-58. Two to three more Republicans does seem reasonable at this point, likely drawn from the party’s corporatist and establishment wings. The former wants cheaper labor, the latter wants to remain electorally relevant.
Utah’s Orrin Hatch voted for the bill out of committee, though he warned he might still vote against it on the floor of the Senate if he didn’t get additional concessions. On the other hand, the Mormon Church has been strongly pro-immigrant and has proven a moderating influence on this issue with the Utah GOP.
Other possible yes Republican votes are Susan Collins, Kelly Ayotte, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski and Rob Portman. Even Rand Paul has expressed openness to voting yes.
Reports suggest that Sen. Chuck Schumer is willing to give away the farm in order to boost Republican support for the bill. The goal isn’t to hit 60, but to get closer to 70 or beyond. The rationale makes some sense—there will be greater pressure on the House to pass the bill if the likes of Rand Paul are aboard. On the other hand, what kind of bill will we need to get Paul’s support? It won’t be pretty.
As Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voices, tweeted yesterday, it’s better to have a good bill with 65 votes than a bad one with 75. Democrats have already made severe concessions on LGBT rights and labor in order to get this far. We already have the support of Republicans like Flake, Graham, Rubio and McCain. There is nothing left in this bill that should offend any other Republican on the correct side of the xenophobic divide.
He’s right. To get those high numbers of GOP Senators, the bill “won’t be pretty.” We need our allies in the Senate to hold the line and give us a bill we can be proud of.
Markos is right: why give any more?