Our man at the bridge

My daughter Eliana has written a terrific profile of our man at the bridge, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. It appears in the August 11 issue of National Review under the title “Amnesty’s worst enemy” and has now been posted online. I learned a lot from it and wanted to bring it to your attention in case you missed it.

It discusses the forces behind the execrable “comprehensive immigration reform” bill that made its way out of the Senate with the enthusiastic support of Marco Rubio, among others, under the leadership of Chuck Schumer. Here is an excerpt from the middle of the profile:

[Sessions] compares the efforts of the pro-reform crowd to a highly orchestrated presidential campaign: “They had exceedingly capable political consultants, they had pollsters to ask the right questions to get the best possible polling numbers, they had TV advertisements, they had rock-star Republicans supporting it, and they felt the train couldn’t be stopped,” he says.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, business and political groups spent more than $1.5 billion between 2008 and 2012 on pro-reform lobbying. Norm Coleman’s American Action Network aired ads on Fox News urging viewers to call Rubio to “thank him for keeping his promise, and fighting to secure the border.” Americans for a Conservative Direction, led by former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, ran ads calling on viewers to “stand with Marco Rubio to end de facto amnesty.” Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit group funded by the Koch brothers’ donor network, moved its 2013 conference from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Fla., and featured Rubio as the keynote speaker. It was the rare issue, says Ingraham, on which the Left and the Right were “completely in cahoots with one another.”

As the legislation took shape, Sessions tried to slow it down in part by drawing attention to the swiftness with which some lawmakers were trying to move it through the Senate. Lawmakers had had two and a half weeks to read the 844-page bill when Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy scheduled it for a markup. “The only thing I don’t think we want is delay just for delay’s sake,” New York senator Chuck Schumer, one of the bill’s sponsors, said at a committee hearing in late April 2013. Schumer’s strategy, says a Sessions aide, was “to move faster than the truth can travel.”

At the same committee hearing, Sessions gave Schumer a reason for delay. He pointed to an article in the Christian Science Monitor noting that even those involved in crafting the legislation didn’t know exactly how many new immigrants it would allow into the country. He went on to read from the text of the bill to illustrate why it was difficult for some to parse. “The discretionary authority under clause one i may not be used to waive” — he paused, right hand in the air — “roman numeral one, sub-paragraph b, c, d 2, i, e, g, h, or i of section 212 a-2, then, roman numeral two, section 212 a-3, then, roman numeral three, sub-paragraph a, c, d, e of section 212 a-10.” His staff, he told his colleagues, had been working for days “trying to decipher this gobbledygook.” Flashing a smile, he looked at Schumer and said that he’d do his best to be ready to vote on the legislation. “But count me as a, a bit of a protest.”

As the bill moved through the Senate, Sessions used details like these to embarrass its supporters. His efforts were aimed not at them but at the few senators who hadn’t yet made up their minds and, even more important, at the dozens of undecided Republicans in the House of Representatives, which would ultimately decide the bill’s fate. Sessions likes to refer to “true facts,” and he says he felt a “duty to try to educate people on what I thought were the true facts.”

$1.5 billion? That’s an eye-opening amount of money with which to sell a mess of pottage.

Anyway, whole thing here.


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