Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent the following response to Republican Senators who earlier today expressed their objection to the return of the immigration bill to the Senate floor. The text of the letter is below:
June 25, 2007
The Honorable John Cornyn
The Honorable David Vitter
The Honorable Elizabeth Dole
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
The Honorable Jim DeMint
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senators Cornyn, Vitter, Dole, Sessions and DeMint:
Thank you for writing to me earlier today about my efforts to bring the comprehensive immigration reform bill back to the Senate floor.
As you know, the Senate was unable to complete action on the immigration bill earlier this month because a handful of Senators, including several of you, objected to my repeated efforts to call up further amendments to the bill. Following the unsuccessful cloture vote on June 7, a group of Senators including Minority Leader McConnell, Republican Conference Chairman Kyl and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Specter, came to see me with a request that I bring the immigration bill back before the Senate under a procedure under which a large number of additional amendments could become pending to the bill.
The so-called “clay pigeon” procedure is unusual, and I would not have considered employing it in this instance without the full support of Senator McConnell. It seems to me appropriate for the two leaders to work together to overcome the tactics of a small number of Senators in order to allow the full Senate to debate an important national issue like immigration. The White House made clear that it also favors such a procedure, since the immigration bill is one of President Bush’s top priorities.
I respectfully disagree with your assertion that I intend to “shut off the debate” and that the procedure in question will “silence amendments instead of facilitate their debate.” On the contrary, I am working to facilitate debate on more than twenty additional amendments to the bill. In contrast, several of you objected when I tried to call up as few as five amendments during the earlier debate. The American people can see clearly who wants to debate immigration reform and who wants to shut off that debate.
Moreover, your claim that the Senate will only debate amendments which I “hand select” is plainly untrue. The dozen or so Republican amendments that will become pending to the bill have been selected by the Republican leadership, not by me.
In sum, I appreciate the concerns expressed in your letter but consider them misplaced. Senator McConnell and I have worked together in good faith to ensure a full, open and productive debate on a bill of overriding national importance that is supported by many Republicans and endorsed by President Bush.