Republicans Stymie Immigration Debate

By Jennifer Parker

Jun 26, 2007 7:02pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Call it sour grapes or exercising their parliamentary right, but Republican Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who oppose immigration reform and failed cut off debate on the bill earlier Tuesday, are insisting that the Senate clerk read over 300 pages of the proposed legislation on the senate floor.

Usually, when a Senator brings up an amendment, the clerk begins to read it and the Senator "asks unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with."

Not this time. DeMint and Coburn objected as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to bring up the clay pigeon amendment by which he is controlling debate and votes on immigration reform.

More on clay pigeons here.

DeMint and Coburn had just finished floor speeches in which they argued the minority was being shut out of the debate.

The grimace on Reid’s face was evident when he realized he was going to have to wait for the reading before continuing with his parliamentary procedure.

Caught in the middle is the Clerk of the Senate, who is now going to have to read this 325-plus page amendment. She started reading just after 5:40pm and took her first drink of water at 5:51. The senate switched clerks at 6:02.

Here is a sampling of some of what the clerks read out loud into the Congressional record:

"…unless the principle z1 alien is exempted under paragraph c…"

"… the secretary of such other entities authorized by the secretaries shall accept applications from applicants…"

"…the secretary shall provide each alien described in paragraph 1 with a tamper-resistant document…"

You could argue that Demint and Coburn are insuring that Senators hear everything that’s in the bill. But there aren’t any Senators on the floor right now. (Perhaps they are watching the reading on C-Span in their offices). Or you could argue that they are they can’t get over losing a parliamentary battle over this morning’s when 64 Senators voted to take up the immigration bill.

Either way, it looked to be a long evening in the U.S. Senate.

The big read has been dispensed with.

Democratic Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., indicated that he wasn’t going to wait for the reading of the entire amendment, but would finish engaging the clay pigeon Wednesday.

So, an hour after the reading started, just before 6:40pm, Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana dispensed with the reading of the amendment — without objection from DeMint or Coburn.

Vitter did not promise to insist on further reading when Reid brings the clay pigeon back up on Wednesday.

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