This morning, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, 68-32. California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, longtime amnesty advocates, voted “yea.”
The Senate victory came at a high price. In the days leading up to the final vote, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid refused to allow debate amendments that would have secured the border or added E-Verify to the bill to bolster internal enforcement. The media widely reported Reid’s strong arm tactics and talk show radio exposed the deeply flawed bill as inadequate on security and lax on American worker protections. Neither Reid nor his smoke-filled room of Gang of 8 allies won any friends. Outraged Americans’ telephone calls flooded Capitol Hill. The Gang’s comical insistence that S. 744 would provide the strongest border security in history fooled no one.
Reid got his wish; the Senate voted in time for its members to go home for Independence Day. But once they arrive, they’ll have no place to hide from their angry constituents who feel betrayed—a rightly so.
Among the 14 Republicans who voted “yea,” many like Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Jeff Flake and Kelly Ayotte will face primary challenges if they decide to run for re-election.
In a way, passing S.744 in such a heavy handed fashion makes it much easier to kill amnesty in the House of Representatives. Members saw and took note of the drubbing the public inflicted on the Senate. The House knows, even if the Senate doesn’t, that American resistance, especially among Republicans, to amnesty and federal benefits before securing the border is high.
Weeks of bruising battles with the Senate should have helped clarify the House strategy for the 2014 congressional elections. In the event that any permutation of the Senate bill becomes law, Republicans would be divided and demoralized. As they did in the 2012 presidential election, many would stay home rather than vote and thus hand by default seats to Democrats.
House Speaker John Boehner should kill the Senate bill by refusing to take it up in the House and declining to go to conference with it. Then, the House can pass specific legislation that would reform immigration but in a positive way: mandatory E-Verify would be an example of legislation that no one can persuasively argue against.
Presumably, the Senate wouldn’t take up mandatory E-Verify but that would become Reid’s problem. Let Reid explain why the Senate opposes mandating the use of a proven program like E-Verify which assures that only American citizens or legal immigrants can hold American jobs.
That would be tough for Reid to do. I say Reid can’t pull it off ; Boehner should call his bluff.