A procedural vote in the Senate today effectively killed the controversial immigration reform bill crafted by the White House, Democrats and key Republican leaders.
The tally fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture, which would have cut off debate, leading to a final vote requiring only a simply majority.
Members of both parties on Capitol Hill have said the issue is unlikely to be addressed again until after the 2008 presidential election.
President Bush seemed to accept that fate after an appearance in Newport, R.I.
“Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people, and Congress’ failure to act on it is a disappointment,” Bush said. “The American people understand the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to our immigration laws. A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find common ground. It didn’t work.”
The roll call, showing how senators voted, counted 12 Republicans among the 46 who favored cloture.
In debate prior to the vote, Republican opponents of the bill noted the widespread opposition expressed by citizens, including Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina who said “our phones have been ringing off the hook.”
“What part of ‘no’ don’t we understand?” he asked. “We need to stop this process that is alienating the American people and enforce the laws on the books.”
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the Senate is “out of touch” with the rest of the country, asserting “this is a vote about whether this body … will respect the true wisdom and common sense of the American people.”
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who disappointed advocates of tough border enforcement by supporting the bill, acknowledged many Americans “have lost faith in their government,” but he insisted it’s not enough to say the answer is simply to enforce the law, “because some of our laws are unenforceable.”
“It’s time for us to return to the rule of law,” Kyl said.
After the vote, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., issued a statement saying the “demise of the Bush/Kennedy pro-immigration bill affirms that democracy does work when the American people get involved.”
“The public should take note of all of those who dismissed their opposition as uninformed skepticism and remind their elected leaders not to underestimate the powerful voice of the American people,” the congressman said.
Tuesday, the Senate voted 64-35 to resurrect the legislation, including 24 Republicans, 39 Democrats and independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. In opposition were 25 Republicans, nine Democrats and independent Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont. Two weeks ago, only 45 senators supported a vote for cloture that would cut off debate and proceed to a vote.
As WND reported, despite a vigorous White House effort to rally support for the bill, only 22 percent of Americans favor it, according to a new national survey.
The plan would provide a path to legal status for the estimated 12-20 million illegal aliens now in the U.S. Opponents call the provision amnesty, because it allows illegals to acquire a “probationary” visa after only a quick, 24-hour background check. The White House contends the carefully crafted compromise would focus first on enforcement, allowing for more Border Patrol agents, more cameras and other technologies.
House Republicans stated their opposition to the bill Tuesday .
In a closed-door meeting, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., offered a resolution reading: “Resolved, that the House Republican Conference disapproves of the Senate immigration bill.”
Hoekstra said a “growing majority of House Republicans are uncomfortable with the product and process of the Senate immigration bill.”
“A public hearing has never been held on it, and it was crafted in secret by only 12 senators and two cabinet officials,” he said.
Shortly before Hoekstra introduced the measure, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio notified the White House.
“I won’t say they were happy about it,” Boehner said.
Editor’s note: The current edition of WND’s monthly Whistleblower is a cutting-edge look at the federal government’s immigration policies – and how the nation’s most vexing problem can be solved. It’s titled “NATIONAL SUICIDE: How the government’s immigration policies are destroying America.”