Immigration Reform in a Republican-Controlled Senate, Pt. 1

Let’s image the GOP does gain the six seats necessary to win control of the Senate, and maybe even the few additional seats that Nate Silver thinks possible. Let’s further imagine that it then sets out to do the right thing for real immigration reform. What then for immigration reform?

Well, there’s good news and bad news.

The words “Senate Republican majority” conjure up an obvious and easy path to true immigration reform. Republicans, in control of the Senate will just vote for it, right?

Well, not really. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

The original 2013 Senate immigration bill was passed in the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee, which is split 10(D) and 8 (R), with three Republican votes: Graham (S.C.), Flake (Ariz.), and Hatch (Utah).

The full Senate is currently divided 52 Democrats, 46 Republicans, and 2 independents. The immigration billpassed by a vote of 68-32. In that vote, all 52 Democrats voted yes, both independents voted with the Democrats, and 14 of the 46 Republicans voted with the Democrats.

Those 14 Republicans included 4 members of the so-called “Gang of Eight” who agreed to the bill’s basic provisions before being allowed to help sponsor it. They are: Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsay Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.), and Marco Rubio (Fla.).

The 10 other Republicans that voted for the 2013 Senate bill were: Lisa Murkowski (Ala.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Jeffrey Chiesa (N.J.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Orrin Hatch (Utah).

One of these senators, Jeffrey Chiesa (R-N.J.), has already been replaced by Democrat Cory Booker, leaving 13 potential Republican votes for a 2013-like immigration bill (after all, that’s what all of these Republicans voted for at the time). The rest of these Republicans are expected to return to the Senate.

What would the actual Senate numbers look like if Republican won enough seats to gain control?

Assuming the Republicans get the six Senate seats they need to win control, it would change the current balance from 53 (D), 45 (R) and 2 (independents) to at least 51 (R), 47 (D), and 2 (independents). The two independents, Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Angus King (Maine), now caucus with the Democrats, but King has suggested he might caucus with Republicans if they win a majority. That may not provide Republicans with much help to pass real immigration reform, as that same article noted that, “King’s voting record makes him more a more reliable Democratic vote than 11 Democratic senators, including Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Joe Manchin III (W. Va.).”

No real help for real immigration reform there.

What about the Senate Judiciary Committee, that has primary (but shared) jurisdiction of immigration legislation?

There’s more difficult news there.

Click HERE to read more

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