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  1. #1
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    McConnell's Vote on Immigration Shows Distancing From Bush

    According to Michelle Malkin's blog yesterday, McConnell cast his NO vote only after 41 NO votes had already been cast against cloture.


    McConnell's Vote on Immigration Bill Shows Distancing From Bush

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... refer=home

    By Laura Litvan

    June 29 (Bloomberg) -- During his first six years in office, President George W. Bush had few better allies in the Senate than Mitch McConnell. Yesterday, that ally helped defeat an immigration overhaul that is the centerpiece of the president's domestic agenda.

    McConnell, who leads the chamber's minority Republicans, was one of 53 senators who voted to block the immigration measure, probably dooming its chances to become law before the 2008 elections. In the weeks preceding the vote, Republican lawmakers said McConnell made no effort to persuade them to back the bill and wouldn't even say whether he would support it himself.

    The measure ``wasn't the people's will,'' McConnell said. ``And they were heard.''

    McConnell, who is up for re-election next year in Kentucky, is demonstrating an independent streak that may be designed to distance party lawmakers from a president whose declining approval ratings could endanger Republican fortunes in 2008, said Senator Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican.

    ``If we are going to have any hope of being in the majority in the Senate, it's going to require some recognition on the part of the administration of the realities as our candidates see them,'' Lugar said.

    In recent weeks, McConnell has also shown increasing impatience with Bush's Iraq policy. He has warned the administration that a recent decision to send more troops there will be re-evaluated in September, even though Pentagon officials have asked for more time.

    Unusual Split

    Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said the leader's split with a president of his own party is unusual and may reflect McConnell's reluctance to spend political capital on behalf of Bush, who is increasingly unpopular.

    ``It's a question of self-preservation,'' Baker said. ``It's safer now to get into the lifeboats.''

    Bush, who had personally lobbied Republican senators to support the measure, said yesterday in Newport, Rhode Island, that the vote was ``a disappointment.''

    McConnell said in a June 27 interview that there isn't ``any particular tension'' between his history as a Bush ally and his role as leader of the Senate's 49 Republicans.

    He has shown an ability to keep his troops in line on important votes that have blocked Democrats from advancing their agenda, including legislation that would allow the Medicare system to negotiate lower drug prices for senior citizens and greater disclosure of the U.S. intelligence budget and operations of secret CIA prisons.

    Iraq

    In the interview, McConnell said he sees Iraq and immigration as presenting different challenges. On Iraq, he said, it is his ``hope and expectation'' that Bush will shift course this fall after an assessment of whether the current strategy is working.

    On immigration, he said his hands-off strategy had ``nothing to do with the president,'' and was simply meant to ensure Republicans on all sides have ample chances to have amendments considered. Yesterday, he reversed himself and voted with 36 other Republicans to shut down the debate completely, making it impossible for more amendments to be considered.

    The immigration legislation would have created a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants, tightened border security and authorized a guest-worker program. It was unpopular with many Republicans and some Democrats, who say it would have given amnesty to people who broke the law by entering the country illegally.

    Durbin's Criticism

    Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democratic leader, said McConnell was among the Republicans who asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to find a way to revive the legislation after it was blocked June 7. McConnell assured Democratic leaders he wouldn't request more debate if he wouldn't support the measure, Durbin said, but then the Republican leader did virtually nothing to aid passage.

    ``Senator McConnell was invisible,'' Durbin said. ``He didn't appear on the floor, he didn't speak on behalf of this and then came and voted against us. He led us to believe last week he was in favor of this. I was very disappointed.''

    Don Stewart, McConnell's press secretary, disputed Durbin's assertion that the Republican leader had told Democrats that he would support the measure. McConnell, Stewart said, made clear that he would need to see the outcome of the amendment process before deciding how he would vote.

    Immigration Bill Stalled

    Durbin said it was now unlikely the immigration measure would be revived before the 2008 presidential election. ``Absent some miraculous revival, it is not going to move forward in this Congress,'' he said.

    McConnell, 65, was elected minority leader after Democrats took control of the chamber in November after 12 years of mostly Republican rule.

    Until this year, he had been one of Bush's strongest allies. He was one of the most vocal supporters of key elements of Bush's first-term agenda, including the $2 trillion in tax cuts, trade policy and expanded presidential powers after the Sept. 11 attacks. His wife, Elaine Chao, is the secretary of labor and the last remaining member of the cabinet Bush assembled in 2000.

    ``Just about any alliance is only as strong as practical political conditions allow it to be,'' said Scott Lasley, a political scientist at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.

  2. #2
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    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Beckyal's Avatar
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    McConnell knew that US citizens did not support the bill and did not trust promises of border security. He knew that if he voted yes he would not be re-elected. But be careful he has the capability of sliding much of the bill into different admendments in other bills. Conferences are closed door and almost always late at night. We need to conference out in the open so we can see who backs what earmarks and who supports items put in at the last minute or takes items out at the last minute. If the american people could only see the games that are played during conference they would force a change to our govenment.

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