In other words, 36 Democrats voted with the other party -- and 17 Republicans voted with the other party. Of those not voting, two were Democrats and 11 were Republicans. That means 38 Democrats and 28 Republicans didn't follow the party line.
That vote didn't stop House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) from claiming yesterday that it was the Democrats who lacked compassion.
Bill Expedited, Scapegoat Now Sought
So was this the strategy, then? Include draconian language making undocumented workers felons in the Republican-drafted bill ... just so the Republicans could later blame the Democrats for refusing to go along with a Republican-led amendment to strike the provision? The Democrats are responsible for a rift within the Republican party?
The bill was rushed through the House with little external fanfare nine days before Christmas. Most eyes, if they were on the Capitol at all, were watching the budget and yet-another battle with Alaska over the bridge to nowhere.
The bill sponsor, House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5), pushed the bill through committee in record fashion. It was introduced on 6 December, moved out of committee a week later ... and was discharged from the Committees on Homeland Security, Education and the Workforce, and Ways and Means over a two day period. The vote came on 16 December - 10 days after it had been introduced introduced.
Clearly, this bill -- with its draconian classification of undocumented workers as felons -- had the support of the House Committee for Homeland Security Chair, Peter T. King (R-NY) and House leadership. You don't push bills through the system this fast without that support.
Leaders brought the bill to a vote in a rare December session, "hoping to give their members an accomplishment to brag about over the long winter recess."
Sensenbrenner authored an amendment to the Committee-drafted felony provision which would have downgraded being found here without papers to a misdemeanor. Most Democrats voted against the amendment. So did 65 Republicans; had they stuck with their party, the amendment would have passed, 229-192.
Leadership allowed only seven amendments to come up for a vote.
Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) was unsuccessful in convincing leadership to allow a vote on a guest-worker program. The bill left the 11-12 million undocumented workers already in the country hanging, according to Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
In addition, the WaPo reported at the time that the bill included "$2.2 billion to build five double-layer border fences in California and Arizona, totaling 698 miles at $3.2 million a mile." That is less than half the length of border with Mexico, which is just shy of 2,000 miles.
Victory For The Angry
Proponents of a just-say-no approach to immigration were euphoric. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and founder/chair of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus crowed: "For the first time, I can go out on the stump and say our party has done right on the issue of immigration. And I feel good about it."
Newsweek quotes Tancredo, who claims that undocumented workers are "a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation." When the four-term Congressman launched his Caucus upon arrival in DC, he enticed 16 members to join. Today, he has 91, giving credence to and fanning the flames of rising American fear of illegals.
Call it the politics of polarization and pandering - as it flies in the face of immigration statistics.
How Your Congressman Voted
The Dems who voted "aye":
Barrow, Berry, Boren, Boswell, Boucher, Case, Chandler, Costello, Cramer, Davis (TN), DeFazio, Edwards, Ford, Gordon, Herseth, Higgins, Holden, Kanjorski, Larsen (WA), Lipinski, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Melancon, Moore (KS), Peterson (MN), Pomeroy, Ross,Salazar, Skelton, Strickland, Tanner, Taylor (MS), Udall (CO) and Visclosky.
The Pubs who voted "no" (plus the Independent):
Bartlett (MD), Boehner, Diaz-Balart, L., Hastings (WA), Hayworth, Hobson, Leach, Nunes, Pearce, Radanovich, Ros-Lehtinen, Sanders (Ind), Smith (NJ), Souder, Thomas, Tiberi, Turner, Wilson (NM).
Votes by state delegation; votes by region (telling - the South and Midwest versus the West and the Northeast) ; votes by gender (more males voted yes, more females voted not).
For more information
Previous coverage: Immigration, A Republican Albatross, Immigration Remains on the Front Burner, Immigration Issues: Shades of Gray or Black-and-White?
From other About Guides: Catholic Cardinal Mahony Pledges to Defy House Immigration Bill HR 4437, Illegal Immigration - Profits& Poverty, Social Security & Starvation, Pros & Cons of Immigration Reform Proposals, Immigration Reform - Republican vs. Democrat? Pessimist vs. Optimist? Or Will it All Come Down to Re-Election?, Immigration Bill Not Moving, The Right To Break The Law