Senators Bicker over Immigration Amendments
(WASHINGTON) — Tempers flew in the Senate Wednesday afternoon as some Republicans pressed for the consideration of more immigration amendments after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed votes on 32 amendments for Thursday morning.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, took to the Senate floor Wednesday to call for a separate vote on his amendment, which aims to toughen requirements in the E-Verify program.
“This is about making the underlying bill work. I do not believe that it will work if we do not have strong workplace verification, simply,” Portman said.
Reid, D-Nev., grew heated over Portman’s vote proposal, pointing out that the Ohio senator was offered the opportunity to include his plan in the Hoeven-Corker agreement.
“I’ve been very patient today, but I’ve just about had it on this,” Reid yelled on the Senate floor. “This senator from Ohio was offered to put this in the bill. He turned it down and we’re spending all this time here because he’s been aggrieved in some way? He had the opportunity to put this amendment in the bill as it’s offered.”
“Enough of this!” Reid said.
As he reiterated his call for the consideration of more amendments, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, responded, “I reserve the right to object but I will object.”
“Our side isn’t going to let the other side pick our amendments and choose our amendments any more than they would let us decide what Democrat[ic] amendments are going to be offered,” Grassley said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joked that he was “one of the calmest people around here” before launching into his own rant over Republicans calling for the consideration of more amendments to the plan.
“When this bill was before the Judiciary Committee, there were 300 amendments filed, 300!” Leahy yelled. “It is frustrating to me to hear these numbers when so much work has been done by both Republicans and Democrats on this bill to get to the point we are.”
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who co-sponsored the E-Verify amendment with Portman, noted that the debate over amendments Wednesday highlighted the dysfunction of Congress.
“We wonder why we have a single-digit approval rating in Congress,” Tester said. “If you’re watching this on TV, you’re saying, ‘What is going on in Washington, D.C.?’”
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