25 June 2007

How it works

In case anyone still doesn't know this, the amnesty bill faces up to three distinct votes in the Senate:

(1) The first cloture vote. This is, in effect, the vote to re-introduce the thing for consideration, and could take place as early as tomorrow.

(2) The second cloture vote. This is the vote to shut off debate and move the bill along to the up-or-down vote in which it will finally be passed or rejected. This second cloture vote could come as early as this Thursday.

(3) The final up-or-down vote.

Both cloture votes require 60 yes votes to pass (that is, 60 actual Senators, not just 60% of however many are present). Thus 41 Senators not voting yes -- whether they vote no, or don't vote at all, or are absent -- will stop the bill. This applies to either one of the two cloture votes. If there are fewer than 60 yes votes in the first vote tomorrow, the bill stops there. If it passes tomorrow, but fails to win 60 yes votes in the second cloture vote, again, it will be stopped. If it gets 60 yes votes in both cloture votes and moves on to the final up-or-down vote, then passage of the bill is certain, because the final vote goes by a simple majority -- meaning that 50 no votes would be needed to stop it at that point, which is not realistically possible. Thus only the two cloture votes represent actual chances to kill the amnesty. If a Senator claims he will vote yes on cloture but no on the final bill, this is a scam -- it's a way for him to claim credit for opposing the thing while still not actually helping to prevent it from passing. There must be 41 no votes on cloture (counting non-votes and absences as no votes).

For updates on the struggle to reach the magic 41, see here and here (click on the newest-dated headline).

The media are continuing to spin the opposition to amnesty as a conservative phenomenon. For the facts, see this Rasmussen poll, which reveals that Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters all oppose the bill by almost identical ratios (about 50% opposed to 20% in favor).

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