Posted by Generalissimo
It has not been a good week for Barack Obama. The first term Senator of Illinois and chief thorn in the side of Hillary Clinton on her ascendance to the presidency tripped on a YouTube question in the Democratic debate a couple of nights ago by declaring that no dictator is above meeting with, regardless of the situation, raising the eyebrows of even some of the Beltway punditry. He tripped again today.
Obama found himself in the usually mundane role of Senate chair this afternoon while the Republicans used procedure to tie the Democrats in knots once again. And when put in the position to make a ruling, he gave the Democrats a short-term win, but a long-term loss on the immigration debate. He very well have given critics of his presidential campaign more fodder.
Feckless majority leader Harry Reid had a homeland security appropriations bill on the floor for debate, and thought the day was going to go rather smoothly, until the Republicans showed him up once again by offering an amendment to tie border security elements of the immigration bill to it.
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The Republicans, still smarting from the immigration bill meltdown of last month, showed they not dropped the parts of the bill that conservatives by and large have been clamoring for, namely funding for the fence, more border patrol agents funded, etc. Senators Lindsey Graham, Jon Kyl, Judd Gregg and Jeff Sessions all worked on today’s amendment to put teeth to some of the good planks of border security reform, and attached it to the funding bill for homeland security, putting the Democrats in a box. Politically speaking, this was a brilliant move. You knew this to be the case because Ted Kennedy, the author of much of the language in the failed immigration bill this year, came down to the floor and read the riot act about the Republicans trying this stunt.
Harry Reid certainly didn’t want to have this measure voted on, because he didn’t want to look foolish and have the Republican parts of the immigration bill passed around him on an end run, so he asked the chair for a ruling that the Graham amendment be stricken because it wasn’t germane to the original bill. That’s right, the Democratic leader of the Senate wanted a ruling that border security funding has nothing to do with homeland security funding. All eyes turned to the chair, currently occupied by Barack Obama. Here is what he had to say.
HR: We have to have a ruling here first.
BO: The chair is not aware of an arguably legislative provision in the House bill, HR 2638 [the homeland security funding bill], to which Amendment number 2412 offered by the Senator from South Carolina [the border security funding amendment] could conceivably be germane.
Judd Gregg: So the amendment is germane?
BO: No, that the chair does not believe that the defense of germaneness is appropriately placed at this time.
So there you have it. Senator Barack Obama, the man who is trying to win your vote to be the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, the man whose primary mission is to protect and defend the country, can’t see how border security has anything to do with homeland security. Unbelievable, but true.
The vote was taken, a simple majority of Senators present being required, to agree with the chair’s ruling. If so, the Graham amendment is killed. If not, the Graham amendment has to be voted on. After an extended voting session, the final tally was 52-44. All but two Republicans present voted against the chair. All Democrats present voted with the chair. When the vote was over, Harry Reid smiled, not yet realizing the burning sensation in his foot was from the bullet hole he just shot into it.
Hillary Clinton, in her accustomed reptilian fashion, didn’t cast a vote on this procedural motion, leaving Obama to twist in the wind on the campaign trail for weeks and months to come defending why he thinks border security and homeland security have nothing to do with each other.
But once again, even though the Republicans lost this maneuver, the bottom line is very clear. When the touchy subject of immigration and border security is debated during the election cycle between now and next November, the Republicans are on record of working for increased physical fencing, more Border Patrol agents, all the elements serious Americans expect from a serious party. The Democrats see border security as something that will just take care of itself once they figure out how to naturalize and enfranchise the people already here. The Republicans lost this battle, but the war they have been losing rhetorically on immigration may have finally turned the corner.