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Senate Turns To Immigration Amid Return Of Shutdown Rhetoric

Politics Tribune News Service

Senate Turns To Immigration Amid Return Of Shutdown Rhetoric


By Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

WASHINGTON — As Senate Democrats praised the GOP majority for a new era of openness, they were already preparing for an abrupt turn when the chamber’s attention focuses on immigration.

“What we have seen over the last several weeks is the Senate I remember, the Senate I was elected to, the Senate where there was active debate, deliberation, amendments,” Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin said on the Senate floor. “For some members, it is a new experience. I hope in our role as the minority we can work with the senators with a feeling of mutual respect to achieve at least debate on the floor, if not some significant legislation.”

The Illinois Democrat, who has played the role of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s foil on the floor in the absence of Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), expanded on that point in a conversation with reporters. He said that other than one “Thursday night massacre” — an evening session that had Democrats crying foul about debate time — the process had worked well.

“It’s no fun being in the minority, and I hope it ends soon, but as long as we’re in the minority, I think we should try to be constructive,” Durbin said, adding that during the pipeline debate, Democrats “didn’t use the tactics that had been institutionalized under the Republican minority.”

One of the GOP’s favorite chess moves from its time in the minority is expected to return Tuesday afternoon, however. Democrats are planning to block proceeding to a House-passed Homeland Security appropriations bill that would also negate President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

It’s a turnabout from a few months ago, when Democrats were in charge and railed against Republicans whenever they would vote to block debate on a bill.

“Our goal is to keep the Democrats united, and make it clear to Sen. McConnell and the Senate Republicans that this House approach is unacceptable,” Durbin said on a Jan. 30 conference call, pointing to support from Democrats for a clean Homeland Security funding bill from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

“The Republicans are more frightened by DREAMers than they are by ISIS,” Durbin said in a reference to children brought here illegally by their parents. “They are not concerned about whether or not the Department of Homeland Security is funded.”

The talking point is a close cousin of one used on Jan. 29 by the No. 3 Democratic leader, Charles E. Schumer of New York.

“It seems our Republican colleagues are willing to shut down the government despite the fact that we have such security needs here in this country,” Schumer said. “They dislike DREAMers more than they dislike ISIS, and it’s just unbelievable.”

But the decision by Senate Democrats to filibuster taking up the House bill could leave them more exposed to criticism that they would be responsible if DHS funding dries up at the end of February, leaving Border Patrol agents and many others at the department wondering when they will get their paychecks.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the new chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee that oversees immigration, offered a window into that line of attack last week on the Senate floor.

“The Democrats are saying we’re not even going to go to this bill that would fund homeland security?” Sessions asked, highlighting a CQ Roll Call report from Jan. 29. “Sen. McConnell is saying you can have your relevant amendments, and if you don’t like the language the House put in that says the money can only go to lawful activities, you can offer an amendment to take it out, but if you don’t have the votes, you lose. That’s the way the system should work.”

McConnell made a brief appearance on the floor on Jan. 30 that included setting the procedural gears in motion for the Tuesday afternoon test vote, saying he saw “no reason” for his Democratic counterparts to stop the process dead in its tracks.

“It’s a debate that will challenge our colleagues on the other side with a simple proposition: Do they think presidents, of either party, should have the power to simply ignore laws they don’t like?” McConnell asked. “Will our Democrat colleagues work with us to defend key democratic ideals like separation of powers and the rule of law, or will they stand tall for the idea that partisan exercises of raw power are good things?”

The Democratic caucus proved its power as a minority recently, when enough Democrats voted to turn back McConnell’s bid to limit debate on the pipeline legislation, a move they thought was premature. But after a slew of additional amendments, the bill reached its inevitable conclusion, having more than 60 supporters.

The dynamic is different with immigration, because, as written, the underlying bill doesn’t have the votes to break a filibuster. And opponents of the bill got new ammunition on Jan. 29, even setting aside complaints about the effect on recipients of deferred action, with the Congressional Budget Office reporting that the bill’s immigration provisions would increase the deficit.

A bid to move around the immigration standoff would face no shortage of opposition from conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz, though.

“My view is that Republicans need to honor the commitments we made to the voters to stop President Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional amnesty,” the Texas Republican told CQ Roll Call. “For several months now, I’ve called for us to every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in the president’s illegal action.”

While Cruz was focused on the confirmation process for attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch during that brief interview, he did add that the GOP “should use the power of the purse, the most potent authority that Congress has.”

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr



  1. plc97477 February 2, 2015

    I find it hard to believe that they find it odd that the repugs are more afraid of dreamers than isis. isis has money, dreamers don’t. Repugs bow down to those with money and do everything in their power to take away what little those without have.

    1. kenndeb February 3, 2015

      Spoken like a true brainwashed liberal communist.

    2. paulyz February 3, 2015

      Unsecured borders & released previously deported criminal Illegal aliens are a threat to us, and National Security. Not only “nice” Illegals enter our Country, there are drugs, diseases, criminals, losers, & terrorists.

    3. joe schmo February 4, 2015

      What did you just have a brainfart? You really don’t know Conservatives at all….

      ‘Without have?’ Well, those that don’t have really have it all while the citizen is beginning to have less and less. Just live in CaliMexico for a few years and you will see the truth…..

  2. Uncle Rex February 3, 2015

    Around 70% of the births at Parkland Hospital in Dallas are of illegal aliens.

    1. Paul Bass February 3, 2015

      And 100% of Uncle Rex comments are trolling, untrue, and stupid. Congratulations.

      1. joe schmo February 4, 2015

        Sorry genius, he is not lying. I live in CaliMexico. Your ignorance with regards to ILLEGALS is mind-boggling.

        To be honest with you, that you really care about these people is a farce. The only reason you want these people to become citizens is because you want the vote. What’s the matter….afraid you don’t have enough?

        1. Paul Bass February 5, 2015

          Illegal don’t vote.

          And as usual unsubstantiated opinions don’t amount to anything more than hot air.

          Also he was talking about Dallas NOT California, so, strike three!

          Congratulations to you also!

  3. James Bowen February 3, 2015

    Some of the DREAMers may very well be terrorists like ISIS. Without immigration enforcement, as is currently the case, DHS is effectively shut down as it is. Under no circumstances should Congress pass a bill that funds this illegal executive amnesty that could very well allow terrorist to remain in the country.

    1. bobnstuff February 3, 2015

      If the congress would pass a immigration reform bill and fund the immigration courts that are needed there would be no need for the president to delay enforcement of the law. Just for the record amnesty is what republican presidents give, Obama only waits for the congress to act. The other thing is that an executive order is an official statement not what the president is doing. He is using administrative memos which are not quite the same thing. As long as we have unregulated alien in the country you are allowing a chance for terrorists. Under the temporary order almost half the illegals aliens would be regulated.

      1. James Bowen February 3, 2015

        Just because an alien is regulated does not mean they are not dangerous. Look at the Boston bombers for instance. The best way to ensure that these illegal aliens don’t cause problems is to get rid of them.

        Whatever the President is doing, it constitutes nullification of current law, which is not only blatantly unconstitutional but goes against the very principle of separation of powers. In giving them work permits, he is nullifying limits to immigration as set by law.

        1. bobnstuff February 3, 2015

          Two things you should know, first the Boston Bomber was a US citizen and not an illegal. Second the Presidents action are no different then the action of every American presidents in history. He has been very careful to walk the line. Look at history and you will see that selective enforcement of the
          law has been done by every president since Washington.

          1. paulyz February 3, 2015

            Like the line Obama walked when he stated over 20 times that he doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to grant Executive Amnesty? Now he is usinf tricks because he knows he is on very thin ice. A principled American upholds the Constitution always, not just when it fits their ideology, if you don’t, then someday it will come & take away your Liberty as well.

          2. joe schmo February 4, 2015

            As far as the Constitution goes. Do you realize we are one supreme judge away from annihilating our charter. Think about it…. We better hope that Republicans can keep their strength in Congress or win the Presidency in 2016

          3. James Bowen February 4, 2015

            I never said the Boston bombers were illegal. I said they were immigrants, which means that our legal immigration system is too permissive as it is, let alone the problem with illegal immigration.

            That the President is allowed to issue executive orders or set enforcement priorities is not in dispute. What the President may not do with executive action is nullify existing law. By granting work permits to 5 million illegal aliens, that is what he is doing. He is nullifying limits to immigration as set by law. Giving work permission to aliens who are not entitled to them under the law goes way, way beyond prosecutorial discretion.

          4. bobnstuff February 4, 2015

            You have not read the law have you?
            $250 fine for first time offense of hiring an illegal. The wall is a joke and since less then half come in that way. I will also point out the illegals weren’t a problem under Bush, no fuss at all. This whole thing is just another fight that the republicans are trying to get at the president. In 2012 the government spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement. To enforce the laws as they now stand would take 10 times that amount. We have 1 enforcement officer for ever 4000 aliens and they do more then just illegal immigrants. Once again you talk about pardoning, which is something the president can do but hasn’t done here. ICE released 303 people because budgets cut, who cut the budget?The house has yet to put together a real immigration bill and until the do and more important fund it nothing will be done and in less then three years we will be back where we were before the temporary fix we have now. I have been trying to figure out just what the republicans support, I believe it is do nothing, which is something they are good at.

          5. James Bowen February 4, 2015

            Yes, the wall is a joke. The key to immigration enforcement is to enforce the laws in the workplace (mandatory E-Verify, SSN-No Matching, employer penalties). This would force most illegals out of the workplace. Without any job, most would leave since they came here for work. This could be done on existing resources and would not require more money. The President could even do some of this without new laws being passed. Instead, he has gone in the opposite direction and chosen to nullify existing law instead.

            Also, the limited resource excuse by the administration is lame. Have they asked Congress for more money to deport more aliens? No, they haven’t.

          6. bobnstuff February 4, 2015

            Actually the President did ask for more money to deport more people last summer. He wanted more judges for immigration court and more money for agents but he was shot down by the house. 600 day back log is way to much. It’s not like the President isn’t deporting people, he is. He’s gong after the criminals first instead of wasting time on the non trouble markers.

          7. James Bowen February 4, 2015

            The House passed a bill to deport more people last summer, but it was not to the Senate’s liking and the Senate killed it. What the President wanted was a bill that would facilitate the settlement of those aliens here. The bill the House passed would have actually expedited their departure.

          8. bobnstuff February 4, 2015

            Last summers house bill was meant to fail, it was never meant to solve the problem and was very under funded and they knew it. Best guess was it would take $20 billion to do what was needed right then and there. And they only had $20 million in the bill for real enforcement. The total bill was for $600
            million and part of it was paid to the Texas National Guard to watch the real border patrol work. They had to pass a law but didn’t really want the problem solved. They just wanted to get out of town. I read
            the bill and was not impressed. What’s amazing to me is just how much miss information there is out there on this subject.

          9. James Bowen February 4, 2015

            It was not designed to fail. It was designed to expedite the departure of aliens and limit their ability to use our judicial system to delay their departure. What the President was proposing was not more enforcement. A good portion of the funds in that proposal would have been to pay for legal representation for aliens. That is not trying to expel them, that is trying to facilitate their permanent settlement. Restrictionist groups that want to limit immigration such as NumbersUSA strongly supported the bill the House passed and strongly opposed the President’s bill. It is very obvious that this administration wants essentially unlimited immigration, and Congress should not yield or compromise anything on immigration to the administration.

          10. bobnstuff February 5, 2015

            So you don’t care about anyone who isn’t a American. You also don’t feel they should have any voice in our system. Well even taking you view, giving them lawyers speeds up the system. They tried it in New York City and got rid of most of their back log. It seems that a judge can do ten times the cases when they don’t have to explain everything to someone who doesn’t speak
            English or who is 12 years old. This becomes their lawyers job and things work the way they are meant to. Also if we have enough visa why is the business community screaming for more. You will also note that non of the Republican bills fix the enforcement of employers breaking the law. As I have said if you want the problem solved it’s
            going to cost a bunch of money and create a whole new set of problems. Just so you know were I’m coming from, I don’t think adults
            who come in illegally should get a free ride. The system is broken and needs a complete overhaul for our countries needs. I have little hope for this group of republicans in the house getting anything done to mover the country forward after all the just voted for the 56th time to repeal the ACA. The only thing they seem good at is naming
            Post Offices.

          11. James Bowen February 5, 2015

            It’s not that I don’t care about anyone who isn’t an American, it’s that our government has a Constitutional obligation to prioritize citizens over aliens. Non-citizens, in fact, are not supposed to have a voice in our system. Aliens who are lawfully present are our guests, and those who are not lawfully present are trespassers and thieves at best and invaders at worst.

            As I recall, the immigration law passed in 1996 allows the government to deport illegal aliens without any due process whatsoever. Once it is established that they are unlawfully present (which is very quick and easy), it is legal to immediately deport them. Therefore, it makes no sense to give them lawyers when they shouldn’t even be seeing a judge or getting a hearing.

            Why do you think the business community is screaming for more visas? Have you ever employers complain about having too many people to choose from? They want cheap labor. There is no such thing as too many workers for them.

            The only thing broken about our immigration system is that the laws go unenforced. Enforcing the laws in the workplace would be the most effective and least expensive way to ensure compliance with our immigration laws. That could be done on existing resources without any increase in appropriations. However, this administration has completely halted workplace enforcement, so pardon me if I don’t exactly have confidence in this administration’s determination to enforce the law. We do need immigration reform, but the reform we need is that which greatly reduces legal immigration, not doubling it as that Senate bill S.744 would have done.

            It is also noteworthy to mention that the United States is by far the world’s largest exporter of grain. We do the world a great service by being its food bank. However, the U.S. and Canada are having their populations unsustainably inflated by immigration. If we stay on this track, eventually we will not have a grain surplus to make up for other nations’ food deficits. We would do the world far more service by halting our immigration-driven population growth.

          12. paulyz February 5, 2015

            And don’t forget to mention the 68,000 criminal Illegals that were scheduled for deportation, but Obama released into our society, yours & mine.

          13. bobnstuff February 6, 2015

            The number is had to track down from a source I trust. Everyone has a different one but this is the most reliable one I could find


            It seems that once again the group with the agenda is cooking the numbers to make a problem were there is non and the logical ones are buried. Other things I found while looking for these fact was that the crime rate for areas with high illegal
            populations are not any different then ones that don’t.

      2. paulyz February 3, 2015

        It wasn’t (Reagan’s Bill) dummy, it was a LEGAL Bill legislated by Congress according to OUR Constitution, which you should be thankful for. The Bill was a bipartisan bill called the Simpson-Mazzolli Act, 1 Republican & 1Democrat.
        So you believe that Obama has to wait to enforce the Law until he gets things to go his way with another “comprehensive” Amnesty. Another low information, self-centered Obama supporter, no matter what.

        1. bobnstuff February 4, 2015


          : the act of an
          authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large
          group of individuals

          Do you understand the difference between a pardon and a stay of execution. The stay is in place until there is a new bill passed to take care of the problem. As of right now there is no way to deal with the illegals. By law most have to be given a hearing before they are deported, there is a 600 day back log in the courts right now. If you will remember the President asked for help with the problem and was shot down by the house. Reagan did not have a law in place when he granted amnesty. That’s why he used executive orders to do it. Go read the real history and check out the
          history of executive orders while you are at it. The problem is that the Congress doesn’t really want the problem fixed. They have friends that like the source of cheep labor that can’t complain about working conditions. They also don’t want to spend the money. Watch, they will make a lot of noise but nothing will come of it. I’m not sure that half the congress even understand just what the problem is. To listen to them you would think that that all the illegals came across the southern border. If you do research you will get a much different picture of what’s happening then what you are being told. If you think I’m low information go look at the time line on the amnesty and the passing of the laws. I am willing to guess you haven’t even bothered to check at the president is asking for. All right no left makes you the low information person.

          1. paulyz February 4, 2015

            You state, “As of right now there are no way to deal with Illegals.” WHAT? The Simpson-Mazzoli Act (one-time final Amnesty) for 2.7 Million Illegals had all the measures to deal with Illegals, but we only got the Amnesty. The “legislated” enforcement measures of strong border security including fencing, mandatory E-verify with heavy fines, were not enforced. All we need to do is enforce our Laws already on the books.

            And pardoning at least 5 Million Illegals and releasing previously deported Illegal criminals is hardly the duty of the Executive Branch. Even Obama himself admitted this many times. Now he is just twisting it around. Maybe you aren’t a low information voter but a wrong information voter. And which Party always opposes border security & E-verify, but supports Amnesty, the Democrat Party, and very few Republicans.

      3. 13observer June 12, 2015

        Oh, we wouldn’t want that…….let’s vote. What, do you think we are fools? Giving them amnesty PROMOTES more illegal immigration! How about this; we give those here amnesty and after that, anyone here illegally is HUNG by their neck until DEAD! That might help curb illegal immigration. Who wants to make that deal?

  4. kG February 3, 2015

    Does anyone remember the “nuclear option” that Herry Reid used to shove his bills down the countries throat? Only fifty one votes are needed to pass a bill ,no amendments and debate allowed. Reid, the insane 90 year old pit bull decided he wanted to stop the GOP from having any say in passing laws so he reversed the century old tradition of 60 votes needed for passage of a bill,well now it is the Republican’ turn to practice what Reid put into effect. First,defund the illegals!!


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