DEVELOPMENT, RELIEF, AND EDUCATION FOR ALIEN MINORS ACT OF 2007--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - October 24, 2007)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, earlier this year, a bipartisan group of Senators took up the issue of illegal immigration. It was clear from the debate that ensued that there are deeply held beliefs on both sides. It was also apparent that this is not a problem with a simple solution; it is one that requires time and consideration.
And to live up to the expectation of our constituents, it seemed clear to me that Congress must take steps to secure our borders and provide for our national security first. The Senate seemed to get the message, because it voted overwhelmingly in July to dedicate $3 billion in emergency spending to help promote our border and interior security.
I am disappointed my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are not continuing on the bipartisan path of enhancing our security. Instead, they are bringing up a controversial issue with the DREAM Act. This bill is an attempt to put illegal immigrants who graduate from a U.S. high school or obtain their GED on a special path to citizenship.
Though I recognize and appreciate the tremendous contributions to our country made by generations of immigrants, I do not believe we should reward illegal behavior. It is our duty to promote respect for America's immigration laws and fairness for U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants.
The DREAM Act fails that test and I will oppose it.
This is not an issue that can be solved in one day, and there are pressing matters which we must address.
Here we are, 4 weeks into the new fiscal year and we have yet to send a single appropriations bill to the President's desk. We should be focused on funding our troops in the field, ensuring our intelligence forces have the tools they need to find and catch terrorists, and holding the line on budget-busting spending bills.
The Internet tax moratorium expires in exactly 1 week. Unless we act soon, Internet users across the country will be hit with yet another tax.
And we still have yet to see any plan for addressing the looming middle class tax hike known as the alternative minimum tax. Secretary Paulson told Congress that we must act by early November if we don't want to see 50 million taxpayers ensnared in a confused filing season next year. This deadline, too, is just around the corner.
We still have an enormous amount of work to complete, and we are running out of time.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this attempt to bring up a divisive issue, further delaying the essential, unfinished, business of the Congress.
The Senate has more than enough to do without also tackling issues that divide both this body and the Nation.
Mr. President, I wish to extend my time just 1 more minute.
It has been made clear to me in discussions that this will not be an open amendment process if we get on the bill. It is my understanding that the tree will be filled up, which, of course, would put the majority in control of deciding what amendments, if any, are offered. So this is not going to be an open debate, as far as I can tell.
Maybe the majority would decide to bless some amendment on this side and allow a vote on it. I guess that is possible. But for the balance of the people on this side of the aisle, on my side of the aisle, the Republican side, I want them to understand that even if we get cloture on the motion to proceed, there is certainly no guarantee that this will be an open process that will allow a broad array of amendments.
I yield the floor.
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r. CORNYN. Mr. President, I appreciate the comments made by the distinguished Republican leader with regard to the process we can anticipate and the fact that the majority leader has indicated he will fill the amendment tree, blocking any ability of any Senator, both on this side of the aisle and the other side of the aisle, to offer amendments to improve the bill or perhaps add other provisions that cry out for some remedy.
I ask the distinguished Republican leader whether the types of amendments or suggestions that have been discussed informally would include things like adding a requirement of securing the borders and having an enforceable system at the worksite, or a trigger, before any other provisions like the DREAM Act would be considered or implemented; whether it would also consider--for example, we know that in the agricultural sector there is a lot of concern about a shortage of workers--whether there would be an ability to provide an amendment which would allow for not a path to citizenship but for a temporary workforce to satisfy that need in the agricultural sector; or, for example, in places like Texas that are fast growing States, whether there may be an opportunity to offer any amendments that would provide for a temporary worker program--not a path to citizenship--that would satisfy the legitimate needs of American business? Are those going to be precluded under the plan by the majority leader?
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I say to my friend from Texas, I don't know for sure, but the way the process will work--we have seen it before under majorities of both parties--is the majority leader has the ability to fill up the tree and then deny any amendments or pick amendments. Only the majority leader would be able to answer the question whether an amendment dealing with workplace enforcement or an amendment dealing with border security or, in the case of this Senator, an amendment dealing with the H-2A agricultural worker program, which is important to my State--all of that would be within the sole authority of the majority leader, who would pick and choose if any amendments were allowed, pick and choose which ones were given a chance to have a vote.
I say to my colleagues here on the minority side, we will have little or no control--or none, no control at all over what amendments would be allowed. It would be entirely controlled by the majority leader.