Knowing how we got here is key to knowing how to get past here. The LA Times has this post-mortem on the Immigration bill's path from compromise to confusion.
The immigration bill is a fragile bargain struck during two months of closed-door negotiations between the White House and leaders from both parties. Everyone at the table found parts of it bitterly distasteful, but they emerged with a bill that would genuinely accomplish things. It offers more border security, more workplace enforcement, more legal workers to address the nation's labor shortage and a realistic plan to legalize the 12 million undocumented workers who already live here.
When it hit the Senate floor two weeks ago, its sponsors pledged to stand firmly together against any amendments designed to torpedo the bill. That meant some of them had to vote against measures they'd supported or even authored during last year's immigration debate. Compromise, they agreed, was the greater good.
Others were not so flexible. When it became clear they didn't have the votes to remove the hated legalization plan, some Republicans tried to erode support for the bill by weakening popular provisions such as a guest worker program or by piling on measures some Democrats found harshly punitive.
Reid and others accused Republicans of trying to debate the bill to death or kill it outright by adding poisonous amendments. Some Republicans cheerfully copped to the charges. "I've been trying to kill it since the beginning," said Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.).
But others said they just needed more time and were incensed that Reid wanted to shut down the debate. So they called him on it. Insisting that "more amendments are legitimately pending," Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) voted against ending debate but chided his Republican colleagues for trying to sabotage the bill with endless talk. "Are we going to slither away from this issue and hope for some epiphany to happen?" he said. "No. Let's legislate. Let's vote." That's more like it.
It took considerable compromise between Democrats, Republicans, and the White House to get this measure into its current form. The slithering needs to stop, and the Republican leadership needs to get the recalcitrant members on board.
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