Senate Says No to 6,000 Border Troops; Plan Blocked by Democrats

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 28, 2010 | Go to article overview

Senate Says No to 6,000 Border Troops; Plan Blocked by Democrats


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Senate Democrats managed Thursday to block deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, but the proposal still garnered a majority of senators, showing widespread support for a border-security-first strategy and underscoring why President Obama is having difficulty trying to win an immigration-legalization bill.

The vote flustered Democrats, who seemed uncertain how to handle the proposal and were reluctant to defy Mr. Obama, who just this week proposed that a much smaller 1,200-troop force be deployed.

In the end, 12 Democrats joined 39 Republicans in voting for the deployment - though that still fell nine votes shy of the 60-vote supermajority needed for passage.

The border-security debate was the key fight as the Senate debated the $59 billion emergency war-spending bill to fund Mr. Obama's Afghanistan troop surge.

Late Thursday, the spending bill passed 67-28, sending it on to be reconciled with a House version.

But that was not before senators defeated a Democratic effort to force Mr. Obama to produce a timetable for withdrawal and Republican efforts to force cuts elsewhere in the budget to pay for the added spending.

First and foremost, this bill provides the resources needed to support and protect our troops serving in harm's way, said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

With Democrats holding a giant advantage in the Senate, Republicans were never likely to garner the 60 votes needed to pass the National Guard amendment. But that made the symbolism of the vote all the more significant - a fact that was underscored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer's pleas on the Senate floor to his colleagues not to defect and vote with Republicans.

The president's plan is smart and focused, the New York Democrat said on the floor.

He told his colleagues to reject three Republican amendments that would have deployed 6,000 guard troops, siphoned more money to federal and local law enforcement on the border and boosted a program that jails illegal immigrants for a short time rather than immediately releasing them across the border, where they often just try again to cross.

In attacking the program to jail illegal immigrants, Mr. Schumer said it wouldn't stop the flow of illegal immigrants but would instead waste money.

It will pay for their food, their health care, their recreation time, their reading material for long periods of time, he said.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, started laughing at that charge.

Is he making this up? Mr. McCain was overheard saying to fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, the amendment's author. Just a minute earlier, Mr. Kyl had told the chamber the incarceration program has a 94 percent success rate where it has been tried.

The incarceration and law enforcement support amendments won 54 votes each, short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

Immigrant rights groups said the amendments' failure was a victory and said they hoped it clears room for the Senate to begin debate on a broader legalization bill. …

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Senate Says No to 6,000 Border Troops; Plan Blocked by Democrats
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