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Public Statements

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - June 05, 2007)

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Mr. McCONNELL. Reserving the right to object, Mr. President, I agree in concept with what is being proposed by the majority leader, and that is that we start voting on pending amendments. The amendments mentioned in the unanimous consent request are all amendments that were proposed prior to the recent recess of the Senate. So I am in favor of moving forward and allowing our colleagues votes on the various proposals, many of which have been offered some time back.

I do not agree with the implication that, at that point, we would then be finished with the bill, or that further amendments would be limited. Many of my colleagues on this side of the aisle have been patiently waiting to get amendments in the queue. Some have waited on the floor for long periods of time only to be told there would be an objection to their amendments being called up.

I propose to the majority leader that we allow the managers to continue to set up votes on pending amendments. I even encourage Senators on this side of the aisle to keep their remarks quite short in order to process additional amendments.

I think it is premature to file cloture on this bill and cut off debate on amendments. If we can continue to let the managers work in good faith on setting votes on the amendments, we will have given this important national issue an opportunity for the kind of fair process that it deserves. Therefore, I object.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Reserving the right to object for the very same reason I just stated a few moments ago, the majority leader indicated that amendments that were germane would be voted on postcloture. Of course, that is only if they are pending. One of the problems we have had is getting an adequate number of amendments pending. The best way to go forward--I remind our colleagues, and certainly my friend the majority leader, that it was I on the day I was chosen Republican leader who said this Congress ought to do big things, and I mentioned two. One was Social Security. It appears to me that we are not getting anywhere on that. The other was immigration. I commend the majority leader for turning to it, but the minority is not going to be shut out.

This is a big, contentious, complex matter. We had well over 20 Republican amendments the last time this issue was before the Senate. The best way to process this bill is not for the majority to try to stuff the majority--that won't happen, I assure you--but, rather, to go through the process in an orderly way. And with this kind of rhetorical back and forth, it continues to waste time that could be used in offering, debating, and voting on the maximum number of amendments, which would allow us to get to the point where we can get cloture on the bill and to final passage. Therefore, I object.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, of course, the way to handle this would be to make sure that the germane amendments that are pending get votes postcloture. The majority leader could agree to a consent that it be in order to call up germane filed amendments postcloture, which would be very comforting on this side of the aisle. I understand the position he is in. He would like to move this bill and, I assume, have his Members exposed to the fewest number of votes they don't want to cast. I have a significant number of Members over here who feel very strongly that before they would allow us to wrap up this bill, these amendments need to be considered.

At the risk of being redundant, the best way to do that is for the managers to keep processing amendments as rapidly as possible, to get consent that it be in order to call up germane filed amendments postcloture, which would be comforting to Members on this side of the aisle. Until we decide to operate in that fashion, I must object.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, at the risk of unnecessarily delaying the discussion, the key to finishing the bill is to have votes on an adequate number of amendments. A number of amendments on this side are being offered by people who may well vote for an immigration bill. I certainly would like to vote for an immigration bill in the Senate. I did vote for such a proposal
last time we went through this process in the previous Congress. I would like to be able to do so again. But we are going to insist on fundamental fairness.

This measure may well be the only significant accomplishment of this Congress. Surveys out in the Washington Post today indicate that there is a declining support for the new Congress, which is a considerable implication that the American people have noticed that we are not doing much in this Congress.

Let me repeat, it is not my desire for this Congress to have a record of virtually no accomplishment, and a good significant accomplishment would be to get the right kind of immigration bill out of the Senate. It is still my hope that will be achieved. This is only Tuesday afternoon--just Tuesday afternoon. There is plenty of work time left this week, and I think we ought to get about offering, debating, and voting on the essential amendments to this bill.

I yield the floor.

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AMENDMENT NO. 1170

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, as we move forward on this immigration bill, we need to make sure we protect voters and the 15th amendment by protecting against illegal voting. The Constitution maintains that voting is a privilege reserved for U.S. citizens. Noncitizens do not have this right. Those who don't abide by our laws are not free to influence our political process or our policies with a vote.

The bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform proposed requiring photo ID cards to ensure those who are voting are the same people as those on the rolls and that they are legally entitled to vote.

Photo IDs are needed in this country to board a plane, to enter a Federal building, to cash a check, even to join a wholesale shopping club. If they are required for buying bulk toothpaste, they should be required to prove that somebody actually has a right to vote.

Some have said this legislation penalizes those who are unable to afford a photo ID. In fact, it establishes a grant program to provide no-cost photo IDs to those who cannot afford them.

ID cards would reduce irregularities dramatically. In doing so, they would increase confidence in the system. An overwhelming majority of Americans support this attempt to ensure the integrity of our elections.

An NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, last year, showed that 62 percent of respondents strongly--that is strongly--favor requiring a universal, tamperproof ID at the polls. Nineteen percent said they mildly favor IDs. Twelve percent were neutral.

Add that up, and you have over 80 percent who think this is a good idea. America is very accustomed to showing a photo ID to do virtually anything.

Ninety-three percent of those who were asked for their opinion were either undecided or in favor of implementing the control, as I indicated.

Two dozen States already require some form of ID at the polls. That is 24 of our States. Almost half of them already have this requirement.

My amendment simply establishes a Federal minimum standard that is consistent and allows States wide flexibility in determining the kind of ID required.

We need to harden antifraud protections at the polls to protect the rights of all voters. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and we must preserve its integrity.

I yield the floor.


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