Politico notes that nine current Democratic members of the Senate voted against the last immigration reform package in 2007. They are: Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Max Baucus (Montana), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia), and Jon Tester (Montana). How many of these members will defect this time around?
Brown, Harkin, and Stabenow opposed the 2007 legislation from the left. Don’t expect any of them to do so this time around, with a Democratic administration pushing hard for comprehenive reform. Rockefeller is retiring, so he’s free to vote like the leftist he is.
Of the remainder, the most likely “no” votes are Landrieu, Pryor, and Baucus. Why? Because they are up for re-election in Red States in 2014. To that list we can add two Senators who arrived after 2007: Mark Begich (Alaska) and Kay Hagan (North Carolina).
Tim Johnson (South Dakota) is another Red State Dem up for reelection next year, although I don’t believe he has decided whether to stand. In 2007, Johnson was still recovering from serious illness and didn’t vote on immigration reform legislation.
In theory, then, there are half a dozen or more potential “no” votes within the Democratic ranks.
But my guess is that, given the importance to the future of the Democratic Party of creating a path to citizenship for illegals, the number of Senate Democrats who end up voting for comprehensive immigration reform legislation this time will be nearly identical to the number of Democratic votes the legislation needs in order to pass.
That number will be determined by the number of Republicans who support the legislation. With 55 Democrats in the Senate and 60 votes needed to defeat cloture, every Republican in excess of five who votes “yes” will provide cover for a Red State Democrat to vote “no.”
Of course, if Marco Rubio comes to his senses, immigration reform may fail even if every Democratic Senator votes for it.