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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Republicans Trip Over Themselves On Immigration

You might well share my surprise today in learning that the Senate immigration reform “compromise” announced yesterday afternoon had fallen apart by this morning. I followed this pretty obsessively over the last few weeks, and after watching Frist, Specter, McCain, Reid, Leahy and Kennedy high-five each other over the “deal” at a press conference yesterday, I pounded out a New Dem Dispatch praising the compromise as a “one sane step” towards immigration reform, while warning that the Troglodyte House GOP position on the subject might well make the whole thing meaningless.Turns out that Frist, who reportedly told Harry Reid he could definitely corral a majority of Senate Republicans into voting for the compromise, was talking through his hat, or worse. Republicans insisted on the right to provide for votes on a vast menu of Troglodyte amendents to the “deal,” and Reid quite appropriately said “Hell, no.” A deal subject to unlimited amendments is no deal at all. And so, the motion to move to a vote on the compromise went down hard.So basically, here’s what happened this week: Senate Republicans killed a bipartisan proposal reported by the Judiciary Committee they controlled. Senate Republicans then unveiled a face-saving compromise, got Dems on board, and then proved they couldn’t muster support for their own proposal. Now, incredibly, they’re pretending Democrats are at fault for sticking to the compromise and not agreeing to let it get unraveled through hundreds of amendments on the Senate floor. And let’s not forget that throughout this fiasco the President of the United States, who supported both the Judiciary Committee bill and the discarded compromise, sat on the sidelines, unwilling or unable to sway his partisan troops.It’s increasingly, abundantly clear that Washington’s paralysis on the immigration issue is an intramural Republican problem more than anything else. It would be very helpful if the news media, which typically described today’s developments as some sort of bipartisan breakdown, would figure out the GOP’s singular responsibility for this mess, and report it accordingly.

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