More than a dozen Republican senators are asking Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to allow additional votes on amendments to the immigration-reform package.
Fourteen Republcians complained in a letter that the last time the Senate took up major immigration legislation — in 2007 — there were 47 amendment votes, compared to fewer than 10 this time.
These Republicans contend that their request could be accommodated this week without delaying a final vote on the overall bill. They're even offering to sign an agreement that would diminish the number of procedural votes required to make that happen.
Their request will almost assuredly be rebuffed, but it does provide clues as to who is a likely "no" vote are on the "Gang of Eight" immigration package that includes a compromise border security amendment.
The letter's signers inculde: Sens. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa; Jeff Sessions, of Alabama; Dan Coats, of Indiana; Jerry Moran, of Kansas; Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, of Oklahoma; John Boozman, of Arkansas; John Cornyn, of Texas; John Thune, of South Dakota; Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania; Roger Wicker, of Mississippi; Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin; Deb Fischer, of Nebraska and David Vitter, of Louisiana.
Following is the text of the letter:
June 24, 2013
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader, United States Senate
United States Capitol, Room S-221
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Reid:
After repeated promises of a full and open amendment process on the floor, we have had NINE roll call votes on amendments to the Gang of Eight's 1,076-page immigration bill. NINE. And there is the prospect of a full shut-down of amendment votes after today.
This is deeply, deeply disturbing. It is effectively shutting down the American people's ability to be heard on this issue through their elected representatives.
It seems that as soon as a path to passing this bill was identified, an already very slow, halting amendment process was purposely interrupted with histrionics and shut down.
Now the Corker-Hoeven [border security] amendment has turned into a virtual full substitute for the bill - 1,187 pages. Supporters have been collecting yes votes as the price of admission into that back negotiating room, and all other amendments will likely be denied even a vote.
By point of reference, there were 46 roll call votes on floor amendments to the 2007 immigration bill, which was significantly stronger on enforcement.
We believe that there should be, AT A MINIMUM, this same number of roll call votes on serious, contested floor amendments on the Gang of Eight's immigration bill. This can clearly be accomplished this week with a little leadership and coordination through one or more compact series of 10-minute votes with senators seated at their desks.
Further, we will give our consent to any reasonable consent request if this is assured. This would specifically include replacing the one or two cloture votes and one final passage vote on the bill with one final passage vote with a 60-vote threshold late Thursday, as well as clearing all truly non-controversial amendments.
We urge you to ensure a serious, extensive floor amendment process, which you and the Gang of Eight promised.