Mickey Kaus poses the question whether Senator Frist was signalling an imminent flakeout on the border fence legislation on This Week yesterday. There is a cynicism in Kaus’s instincts that I hope is not warranted, especially given the high regard in which we hold Senator Frist, but it is a cynicism that has been amply warranted in Kaus’s past analysis of the politics of immigration reform.
UPDATE: Stephen Smith, Senator Frits’s online communications coordinator, has copied us on the following message he has sent Mickey Kaus in response to the post linked above:
I just read your “Frist Fence Flakeout?” post on Slate. As the Majority Leader’s online communications coordinator, I can assure you that Senator Frist isn’t “flaking out” and that he is committed to a cloture vote on the Secure Fence Act this week.
In order to pass this legislation, a 60 vote supermajority in favor of cloture is needed. And, unfortunately, we fear that Democrats may well attempt to obstruct the Secure Fence Act by denying it cloture. If Democrats succeed in denying cloture to the legislation, then an up-or-down vote on the Secure Fence Act will be blocked, which is why Senator Frist said “hopefully what we’ll be voting on the floor of the Senate this week.”
As to your question “Plus, hasn’t the Senate already agreed to cloture on the fence issue?”, the answer is no. Your link to Free Republic was for cloture on the motion to proceed to the legislation … not cloture on the underlying legislation.
Stephen B. Smith