IMMIGRATION REFORM -- (Senate - June 07, 2007)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, my good friend the majority leader and I frequently are on opposite sides of issues and fighting to a draw occasionally. But on the matter we are dealing with tonight, both of us desire the same result, which is to get a bipartisan immigration bill that would be an improvement over the disastrous status quo we have on this important issue in America today. The utility, however, of a great many cloture votes, particularly when you don't succeed, is that it doesn't produce results.
I had indicated to my good friend the majority leader at the beginning of this debate that we needed--``we'' meaning this side of the aisle--to have roughly the same number of Republican rollcall votes on this bill this year that we had the last time we brought it up. Now I think we were very close to getting there. My advice to my good friend on the other side was to not have this vote we just had tonight. I didn't believe I could support cloture at this point, although I certainly could at some point, provided we had enough votes on the amendments for which there was a demand on our side of the aisle. But we were not there yet. We could have finished this bill in a couple of more days, in my judgment.
Frankly, we have had too many cloture votes this year to get successful results. This is the 37th cloture vote we have had this year. By this point in the 109th Congress, we had had 13. By this point in the 108th Congress, we had had nine. By this point in the 107th Congress, we had had two. So my suggestion on a bill like this which does enjoy bipartisan support is to meet the threshold of acceptability, to get enough support over here to get to final passage.
I think we are giving up on this bill too soon. I like what I think I heard the majority leader say, that he doesn't want to give up on it either. I think we are within a few days of getting to the end of what many would applaud as an important bipartisan accomplishment of this Congress. I encourage the majority leader to return to this issue in the near future. I doubt if the prospects will get better with the passage of time. There are a number of Republicans who are prepared to vote for cloture as soon as they believe their colleagues on this side of the aisle have had a reasonable opportunity to have offered and voted upon amendments they think would improve the bill. I don't think that is asking for too much.
I would be happy to commit tonight to the majority leader to continue to work with him to try to finish this bill at the earliest possible time. Obviously, it is his decision to decide when we go back to it. My advice would be to do that sometime soon. In the meantime, we will still be working with people on this side of the aisle to try to winnow down the number of amendments that really seem to need a rollcall vote and be prepared to try to work on this again at whatever point the majority leader decides to return to the measure.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, this is a complicated bill, but the key to passage is not complicated. Let me say again what I have been saying for 2 weeks. There is a demand on this side of the aisle to have roughly the same number of Republican rollcall votes that we had when we took up this bill in the last Congress.
Now, my good friend, the majority leader, keeps referring to Members on our side of the aisle who are not going to vote for the bill under any circumstances, and there are a number of those on our side of the aisle. But they are not the key to getting cloture. It is the rest of us.
Let me be perfectly clear about it. What I am saying is, the rest of us who would like to be able to vote for cloture and would like to see us pass a bill are going to insist that the others of our colleagues--whether they vote for or against the bill in the end--have a chance to have roughly the same number of rollcall votes we had before.
It is not complicated. It is a very complicated bill, but the key to getting it passed is not complicated. We are not that far away from being able to get cloture on a bill. And the people like myself, who, if this procedural hurdle of getting an adequate number of rollcall votes is met, are going to vote for cloture would probably be able to bring enough of our colleagues along to get cloture on the bill.
That is why I advise my good friend to give it a couple more days. That is why I also advise him--right now, again, tonight--if he is going to turn back to this bill, I would not wait a whole long time to do it. It strikes me that it ought to be done sometime in the near future. If we can get this reasonable number of additional rollcall votes, I think there is an overwhelming likelihood of cloture on the measure and a bipartisan accomplishment.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, then I want to express my admiration for the 12 Democrats who voted against cloture for being profiles in courage.
Look, the point is, it is quite simple. We all know how to get cloture. It is to have enough Republican rollcall votes, as I have repeatedly told my good friend from Nevada over the last 2 weeks. At whatever point we want to turn back to the bill and meet that threshold requirement, I think there is an overwhelming likelihood of getting cloture and moving forward.