Critical Test for Senate Immigration Plan

The senate immigration reform proposal has already survived numerous attempts by opponents to kill it.

A few weeks ago it appeared to be dead after Republicans were sacred off by an intensely harsh and coordinated campaign led by conservative radio. It was rescued by the personal lobbying efforts of President Bush and the proposal's bi-partisan senate sponsors.

And then just this week it survived a procedural vote by a margin of 64 to 35--a major defeat to the anti-immigration side. The radio screechers were, well, screeching their heads off afterwards. (BTW: All 6 senate Democrats and Republican John McCain running for president nomination voted yes.)

Yesterday, the proposal survived a series of attempts to pack the bill with even more restrictions. Additionally, efforts to make the proposal more palatable to the pro-immigration reform side were rebuffed.

Today's vote to close the debate, allowing for a vote as early as tomorrow, is the proposal's biggest test yet. Proponents need 60 votes. But conservative radio, cable and lobbying groups are putting tremendous pressure--including issuing threats--to a handful of senators an effort to whittle to pro cloture vote to 59 or less.

If the pro-reform majority wins today's battle, then tomorrow's vote in the full senate requires a simple majority, or 51 votes, a somewhat simpler task--but also an opportunity for some very harsh rhetoric on the part of those leading the radical right's effort.

Similar legislation would then have to pass in the House of Representatives. But that's where congressmen Tancredo (R-CO), King (R-NY) and the anti-immigrant caucus lurk. These are people lacking in any sense of humanity for Latin American poor and immigrants of color. Some are outright kooks.

What is interesting about the debate thus far is that many on the pro-immigration side are very unhappy with the senate proposal, believing it to be too harsh, impractical and even counterproductive. While the anti-immigration side has been breathing fire for weeks, the pro side has been relatively quiet. However, expect to hear alot more from them--as well as from the loony right--if and when action moves to the House.

Stay tuned.

Read Immigration bill faces crucial vote.

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