Immigration bill: Pork, Corruption, and Trainwrecks
Yesterday, Tea Party Patriots hammered home the point that the amnesty bill in the Senate is, simply put, bad for America. We highlighted a few examples of corruption, including special treatment for at least one state.
Let’s look at two more examples of corruption, and one example of violating Senate rules.
The first example of corruption is Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) complaint that she couldn’t get some of her preferred bills through the Senate’s immigration debate. According to a Senate aide with knowledge of the proceedings, Senator Landrieu essentially complained again after Monday’s cloture vote that her amendments hadn’t gotten proper attention, and so Senate leadership granted her the ability to get a few amendments voted on.
Of course, this being the Senate, her colleagues also wanted their time in the sun. The Senate aide said the agreement became that for every one Democratic amendment there would be one Republican amendment.
When it comes to delaying the final vote on this bill, Senator Landrieu’s tantrum is excellent news. However, the corruption involved where senators can essentially complain to get their way – as opposed to having their way because it’s right or just or economically sound or constitutional – is exactly what’s wrong with Washington.
The second example of corruption was also brought to my attention by the staffer, and a quick Google search brought up a story Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle did on the issue several days ago:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) have inserted a provision that amounts to little more than a handout to Las Vegas casinos into the repackaged immigration reform bill, Breitbart News has learned. This provision, a brazen example of crony capitalism, was inserted into the immigration law enforcement section of the bill despite the fact that it has nothing whatsoever to do with “immigration” or “law enforcement.”
This is an atrocious abuse of the system, and of the American people’s trust in their leaders. Literally, Senators Reid and Heller are using your tax dollars to market their state to tourists. In a bill about immigration.
The most important point the aide brought to my attention is a budget gimmick being used in the Corker/Hoeven amendment. I strongly encourage watching this video (embedded below) to understand the full context of the gimmick, though I will attempt to summarize it below the video.
The Corker/Hoeven amendment spends somewhere around $46 billion, $40 billion of it without being paid for. Because of so-called PAYGO rules that have existed in the Senate for decades– which means non-emergency legislation must be “scored” by the Congressional Budget Office as not increasing the deficit – the amendment takes Social Security taxes paid for by legalized immigrants and uses it to balance out the $40 billion. Very much like Obamacare, as the Senator noted in the video above, this is a double-counting of tax dollars.
Rightly, Senator Sessions has called a “point of order” on the Senate floor, meaning this will be addressed today. In short, the Senator will ask the Presiding Senator of the Senate (the Senator temporarily taking the place of Vice President Biden) to follow PAYGO rules. The President will then ask the Parliamentarian of the Senate, who is master of the rules and regulations of the Senate, for his or her opinion on the matter.
If the Parliamentarian rules the Point of Order is sound, the Presiding Senator can either support or oppose the Point of Order. If opposed, which is the case in this situation, Senator Sessions can then ask for a vote on the matter. All Senators will then vote, generally along party lines, which in this case means the Senate will choose to ignore its own rule on budget legislation.
Four important things to note about this particular Point of Order:
1. Senator Sessions knows it will fail. However, within minutes of the vote, press releases will go out decrying the Senate’s willingness to ignore its own rules on spending. The intention is to get Senators on the record as being both in favor of overspending and violating their own rules.
2. When this was explained to me by a legislative expert, my first question was: How can the Senate have these rules and run annual deficits? The answer is typical Washington two-step – the annual appropriations bills in the discretionary part of the budget spend less than all tax revenue brought in to the federal government. Thus, that part of the budget, the one created annually by legislation, is indeed within the rules of PAYGO.
It is the mandatory part of the budget, which right now totals over half of the federal budget, that gets the blame for deficits. Mandatory spending automatically grows every year, unless legislation stops it.
3. So why aren’t Senators in jail for breaking their own rules? Senator Coburn (R-OK) said that’s where Congress should be for not passing a budget by April 15, back in 2011. The legislative expert reminded me that these are internal rules for the Senate, with no consequences for breaking them.
4. Given the Senate’s willingness to rely on the Washington Two-Step to break its own rules, I suggest the Senate change its Rules of Order to a more accurate name: Strongly Worded Suggestions.
If you had any misconceptions about the overall poor quality of this bill, be misled no longer. This bill is bad legislatively, economically, fiscally, and with regards to simple good government. There’s no amendment that could salvage this bloated train wreck, and the American people should demand both the Senate and the House shut it down.
Call both of your U.S. Senators to tell them this bill is worse than Obamacare and they need to vote No! Also ask if they have even read the entire 1000+ pages.