Update: First Read suggests McCain handled the post-collapse immigration questions well in Iowa today--in other words, he sounded like he was admitting likely defeat and pushing it into the closet of Past Lost Causes. But I could be overinterpreting. ...
More: O'Beirne hears "the Republican leadership continues to press the reluctant Senators" for a deal that could enable cloture. ... 3:13 P.M.
George Borjas on what the Bush administration could have done to make progress on an immigration solution. ... [Hint: It's not "comprehensive."] 4:15 A.M.
Shailagh Murray reports usefully on how four anti-comprehensive Republicans, including Sen. DeMint, switched votes to back the Dorgan anti-guestworker amendment that may have helped kill the immigration bill. But her story feeds two insidious memes that could propagate in the days ahead:
Bogus Meme #1: The vote-switchers were an obdurate minority frustrating the will of the majority through cynical trickery. Here's Murray:
But that's the Senate, where tactical voting is par for the course, and where a single disgruntled lawmaker -- or, in this case, four -- can run even the most artful compromise aground. [E.A.]
First, Sen. Dorgan, a Democrat, knew full well that if his amendment won it would probably derail the "grand bargain." Republicans had said that it would. Yet he pressed ahead, aided and abetted by Majority Leader Reid who as the vote was being plotted "tapped Dorgan on the back" and said "excellent," according to Politico's Carrie Budoff. This suggest that Dorgan, and maybe Reid, preferred "no bill" to the bill as grandly bargained.
Second, the bill did not fail after Dorgan's "killer" amendment. It failed on an ordinary cloture vote, in which all parties had been clearly warned by Reid that failure would mean withdrawal of the bill. Yet it couldn't even muster a majority, let alone 60 senators. Why did a bipartisan majority effectively vote to bury the bill? The Hill s Manu Raju offers an explanation that's more sophisticated and plausible than Murray's Disgruntled Saboteur theory:
Since the bill failed on a procedural motion, it gives both parties cover when trying to court the influential Latino vote in the 2008 elections.
That's how the Senate works, no? It excels in providing opportunities for lawmakers to engineer stalemates that kill legislation a majority wants killed while diffusing responsibility for doing so (or allowing reporters to blame "disgruntled" loners). ...
Update: But see K-Lo's anonymous Senate source, who says a) the cloture vote may have reflected majority sentiment less faithfully than I'm claiming; and b) it's not over. (Buried lede!) ...
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