The Process

The reason the immigration bill went down was the process.

There is a tried and true process that works well and then there is the process used by the Senate in this immigration bill.

The tried and true process starts with committee hearings, followed by committee mark-ups, followed by floor consideration, followed by a conference committee where differences between the House and Senate are worked out.

This process allows the maximum input from the American people and their elected representatives. It allows amendments to be discussed and then voted on. It allows maximum media attention and it allows the members to educate their constituents about both the problems and the proposed solutions.

Instead, in this case, a self-appointed group of senators went into a back room and made a grand bargain. They then defended this grand bargain like they were defending the Alamo, only to get overrun by intense anger from the American people. I doubt if most Americans ever understood what the Senators were trying to accomplish with the Z visa. I doubt they understood what additional efforts were made to shore up the border. I doubt it because the process was never allowed to work.

The media constantly reported that the grand bargain was a fragile agreement. Good laws are not made from fragile agreements. Good laws are sturdy, solid compromises that withstand the test of time. This fragile agreement couldn’t withstand the buffeting winds of the American electorate, and it sank in shallow water.

The decision on the process usually comes from the leadership. So Senator Reid, since he is in charge of the process, should get the blame. The White House should get some blame too.  They let this process get out of hand. They didn’t have the patience to get this done with the right process, and now they have egg all over their face.

Senator Grassley said it best: “This should be a lesson that you can’t have a bill put together by a rump caucus of a few senators, bypass the committee process, limit debate and stop amendments from being offered and expect it to pass.”

Who knows when this bill will come back, but let us hope that the leaders use a better process to produce a sturdier law. Grand bargains are only grand when they actually get enacted.

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