What does U.S. beef in South Korea have to do with immigration reform?
Well, nothing. Except that Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has proposed tying visas for certain South Korean applicants to the South Korean government's decision to allow the importation of U.S. beef.
That is one of the 77 amendments that Grassley has single-handedly proposed to the immigration bill that is under consideration in the Senate. And those 77 amendments are a fraction of the whopping 284 total amendments to the bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee released Tuesday.
Unsurprisingly, there were a few with questionable connections to the bill at hand.
Take the amendment of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., aimed at allowing the attorney general to deny firearm transfers and licenses to suspected terrorists.
No one, I'm sure, wants to let terrorists get their hands on weapons, but it's doubtful that this particular amendment has much to do with the availability of visas. And it's nearly guaranteed to catch the attention of pro-gun advocates closely watching any encroachment on the Second Amendment.
As it turns out, amendments are a great opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to transform a bill into something they like more. And there's also nothing stopping them from, in some cases, pursuing completely unrelated agendas.
For example: voter registration, an issue near and dear to the heart of many a Democrat.
Sen. Chris Coons , D-Del., has proposed an amendment that would withhold grants aimed at helping states implement the law until those states can prove that they are complying with a different law that makes it easier to register and update voter rolls at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
And not to be left out, Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, has proposed a new section of the bill that cracks down on the manufacture of controlled substances on federal land.
Not an unreasonable request, but it's unclear what, if anything, it has to do with immigration.
Oh, and hats off to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who resisted the urge to add to the amendment pile on.