I’ve been a bit remiss over the past week in covering the ins and outs of the floor debate on S. 2611 in the Senate on immigration and border security legislation, and the numerous amendments that have been voted on over the past week, including roll call votes on 17. It’s clear that efforts by some Senators to sabotage the legislation failed, but it’s hard to decipher any general trend in the grab bag of amendments that have passed, which include some good provisions (more border fencing) and some that are essentially for optics (expressing the Senate’s sense that English is the “national language” of the United States).
A vote on the final bill is likely in the next day or so, and then comes the hard part: the conference with the House. Stories in the Washington Post and the Arizona Republic discuss the likely prospects for the conference, and paint a grim picture for its prospects, given the strong opposition in the Republican caucus of the House to a guest worker program. The Post story even suggests that Speaker Dennis Hastert would prevent legislation from moving to the floor, which makes some sense, given that the legislation is increasingly looking like a no-win situation for Republican lawmakers who are up for re-election, and faced with the impending choice of offending their anti-immigrant base or alienating an entire generation of Hispanics. But I still think that there’s a better than 50/50 chance that this legislation will pass this year, given the public attention to the issue, the need for Congress to show resultsin an election year, and the undeniable fact that despite all of the “amnesty” hue and cry, over 70% of Americans support some kind of guest worker program.
Also, on a related note, here’s the CBO’s budget analysis of S. 2611.