Senate GOP Goes For Border Security Beef-up; Votes Could be Quashed


On the same day that President Obama, in a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans, appeared cool to a border security beef-up and mentioned nothing of additional border resources, according to attendees, two Democratic congressmen announced the White House would be deploying 1,200 National Guardsmen to the south western border.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-AZ, tells Fox he specifically addressed with Obama an amendment he and his fellow Arizonan, John McCain, have introduced to an emergency supplemental spending bill that would authorize the funds for  6,000 guardsmen to be deployed to the border.

“I gather that some of our Democratic colleagues were informed,” Kyl told Fox, “Sen. McCain spoke to it (with Obama)…and then I stood up. One of the things I said was we were going to the floor in a few minutes to request additional money for sending troops to the border…But that was the end of that conversation.”

The McCain-Kyl amendment is one of four GOP provisions that have come to light on this topic today, as the GOP attempts to attach border measures to a must-pass spending bill that contains war funding.

A second amendment, honchoed by Kyl, would fully implement a program in the entire U.S. southwestern border sector called "Operation Streamline," which was, in 2005, deployed in Yuma, AZ and Del Rio, TX.  According to a Kyl aide, the two cities have experience a 94% decline in illegal crossings, a program that involves quick processing, jail time, and deportation.

This $200 million expansion would be fully-offset by using unspent stimulus funds, as would the guardsmen amendment.  This way of paying for anything never sits well with Democrats, who championed the stimulus measure as a top jobs-creator, so the amendments are not likely to garner much bipartisan support.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, has introduced the third amendment that would provide $2 billion in additional funds for state and federal law enforcement, infrastructure, and 500 new Customs and Border Patrol officers, among other items.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, intends to try to force a vote on a forth amendment that would mandate the feds finish the 700 miles of border fence.

But it is not clear Republicans will get a vote on any of these amendments -- in fact, it is not likely at all.  

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, has just filed cloture to end debate on the emergency spending bill, and unless all Republicans hang together to deprive Reid of 60 votes he needs to stop debate, the border security amendments will die.  Senate rules dictate that anything that is not strictly relevant to the material at hand falls away if cloture is invoked.

Democrats have said they would like to deal with a comprehensive immigration bill this year -- Obama told Republicans as much today in the closed door meeting, though the packed Senate calendar will make that a near impossibility.  Reid and members of his leadership team introduced a bill that is heavy with border security measures, but no Republican has voiced support for that bill.