We were cautiously optimistic on the immigration bill wending its way through the Senate as of last Friday. We thought, and continue to think, that the general move is in a more positive direction—that the core political dynamic of trading better border enforcement for addressing the problems of current illegals is a sound one.But a post by Yuval Levin over at National Review gives us some pause. Levin argues that at 1,200 pages, the amendment being put forward is more akin to being a whole new bill, and as such deserves more scrutiny than it will be afforded:
There is almost no way any of the senators voting on it could have read it all, and it’s unlikely even their staff members could do so in a thorough and responsible way in that time. Only the people who wrote it will know what it says, and I imagine it was written in parts by numerous people from several Senate offices. That means there is probably no one who really knows what it says. It also seems likely that, if the amendment is adopted on Monday, the vote on the final bill would come too soon thereafter to allow CBO to re-score the much-amended bill, and so to offer some sense of how things have changed in terms of costs, economic effects, future immigration flows (legal and illegal) and other key issues.
Something has gone seriously wrong with the way important bills are written, and artificial deadlines and the rush to vote aren’t helping. We would like to see some kind of mandatory cooling off/reflection period to allow bills to be analyzed and scored. In practice, we suppose all this can happen when the House takes up the Senate bill. But it’s not in keeping with the dignity or the role of the US Senate to pass such a poorly-understood mish-mash of a bill on such a vital issue in this way.[Statue of Liberty photo courtesy of Shutterstock.]