Last night, I told you about the GOP letter to Harry Reid pressuring the Dems to strip the Feinstein/Craig illegal alien farmworker amnesty from the Iraq emergency supplemental appropriations bil.
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, it happened:
President George W. Bush’s request to fund U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan until his successor can take office hit a rocky patch in the Senate.
Democratic leaders were forced to jettison provisions to award work permits for immigrant farm labor and seasonal workers just hours after beginning debate Tuesday on legislation to add domestic programs to President Bush’s war request.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, kept companion legislation to fund the war waiting in the wings in an attempt to gain leverage over the White House and Senate Republicans. But it was not at all clear that Reid’s strategy would work, given the Senate’s unwieldy rules.
At the same time, the White House renewed its veto threat, reminding everyone involved that the trouble-filled path to Senate passage is but one more step in an even more hard-to-figure battle.
Reid brought up the domestic add-ons in an unusual move designed to win their adoption — over opposition from the White House and GOP conservatives — before turning to legislation providing $165 billion (€106 billion) to conduct military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring….
…Reid has signaled he wants the non-war extras to get a vote before the war funding itself, but it’s a high-wire strategy.
“It is going to be extremely difficult for us to get from where we are today to completing this legislation,” Reid said.
Senate Republicans seemed to suggest they’ll let the add-ons advance to a Bush veto rather than filibustering them this week. A key vote on letting the bill advance looms Thursday, just as senators will be eager to leave Washington for the weeklong Memorial Day recess.
Opposition to the Feinstein/Craig provision came from open-borders Democrat Robert Menendez, who complained that the mass amnesty didn’t do enough for illegal aliens:
the Senate’s rules left some non-spending add-ons like the immigrant labor provisions vulnerable, by allowing any senator to knock them out on a procedural move.
Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat, objected to the immigrant farm labor provision, added to the measure at a hearing last week by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and Larry Craig, a Republican. It would allow almost 1.4 million immigrant farm workers to stay in the United States for up to five years to ease a shortage of farm workers that has left some crops rotting in the fields.
Menendez’ move also killed a measure by Sens. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat and Judd Gregg, a Republican, to extend an expired program to allow seasonal workers to return to the country using H-2B visas.
A spokesman said Menendez acted because the two immigration provisions were tilted in favor of businesses while doing too little to help immigrant workers.
Be sure to read the detailed analysis of the Feinstein/Craig measure from Numbers USA here.
Keep the pressure on. You’re making a difference.
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