Behind the finger-pointing, the 10 senators who drafted the original, "grand bargain" immigration bill are meeting to whittle down a list of proposed Republican amendments to no more than 20 that would be brought to the floor in conjunction with an equal number from Democrats.
GOP aides predicted the bipartisan group will announce a deal as soon as Wednesday that likely would include proposals to raise the bar for security "triggers" that must be achieved before changes go into effect, restrict provisions that allow for chain migration of extended family members and counteract other approved amendments the bill's supporters call "deal breakers."
If senators can agree on an acceptable list of amendments to consider, Republican leaders say they will have the votes to proceed, and the bill can be returned to the floor and possibly passed before the July 4th recess. If not, the bill is likely dead for the year.
The Senate's Democratic leadership must close a 15-vote gap to get the 60 votes needed to move ahead and thwart any attempted filibuster.
If you read any article about the bill coming back that doesn't consult with Senator Byron Dorgan, it really isn't worth the paper it is written on. There are far more Democrats against the bill than there are Republicans that are for it. This fact seems to escape all of the reporting done on the bill. The bill was defeated by a large grouping of Democrats. Without them, the bill passes quite easily.
I would suspect the idea would be to get some Republicans to move in support of the bill to offset this, but can anyone name any likely candidates that would flop at this point? What benefit could there possibly be in this for anyone even wavering? There would be amendments, but none of them are going to strip the Z visa which is granted immediately and not subject to any "benchmarks." That is the major flaw, and this flaw makes up most of the substance of the bill. No window dressing will hide it, and it will doom any Republican that suddenly "gets religion" to the benefit of the bill.
The Democrats aren't going anywhere either. The last thing they wish to do is give Bush a stunning "come from behind" victory on this bill. He's down and they wish him to stay down. Not to mention the fact that this bill and the debate around it has driven down congressional approval ratings to the lowest point in more than a decade, and Harry Reid's personal approval to 19% just about half of Dick Cheney's 38%. He wants to move on, and he gets to decide.
Let me repeat, the bill is not going anywhere, and the immigration issue will be on the table for the 2008 campaign.