Watching the Democratic vote Wednesday afternoon on the House floor provided many revelations --none of them reassuring to those who hope the Democratic Party has the votes to throw open our borders to more foreign workers and to reward millions of illegal aliens with amnesty.
Our side won in a procedural vote that forced H.R. 324 (the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act) to guarantee full border security enforcement in the vast Arizona area. (You can read more about the threat that this act has entailed at other places on our website.)
Frankly, when the voting started late Wednesday afternoon, we assumed we would lose by 10-25 votes. Early voting suggested we were right.
I think Utah's Rep. Bishop (who was pushing pro-enforcement amendment language) and the Republican leadership (which was backing him) primarily hoped to make a statement, not to actually win.
For the last three years the Republicans basically have been winning nothing. To win, they need 40-45 Democrats to join them if they remain nearly unanimous. Fortunately for us, Republicans voted 174-0 in our favor on Wednesday.
But with only about 20 votes (mainly Democratic) still not cast, we had a basically tied vote at around 205-205. At that point, 37 Democrats were voting YES.
It was pretty clear that we were going to lose.
Our experience is that Speaker Pelosi allows as many politically vulnerable Democrats as possible to vote with us but pressures others to either vote the other way or hold their votes until the end and then vote based on what will eek out a one-vote victory for the Speaker. So, we prepared ourselves for the Democratic vote staying just below the 40 it looked like we would need.
Suddenly just before the end of the voting, we saw that two or three Democrats who had voted NO were switching their votes to YES.
- Then, all but three of the rest of the Republicans arrived and cast YES votes.
- The Democratic tally went up to 40.
- And then the dam burst, with the rest of the Democrats finally casting their votes, with most of them voting YES!
- Many more Democrats who had voted NO earlier now saw that the amendment was going to pass anyway and switched to YES because they knew their constituents would prefer a YES.
In those final frenzied minutes of voting, the tally went from around 205-205 to 259-167.
A total of 38 Democrats changed from NO to YES.
The number of Democrats voting for pro-border-enforcement went from 37 to 85.
After our victory in approval of the Motion to Recommit, Rep. Grijalva (the sponsor of the bill) accepted the language to guarantee no prohibitions on border enforcement and to make permanent a key highway checkpoint. After a series of quick parliamentary procedures, the bill came up for a vote and passed quickly, with the strong language intact.
Rep. Gijalva could have avoided the whole controversy by allowing a vote on Rep. Bishop's amendment in committee. Rep. Grijalva claimed that the amendment was not needed and did not change anything about the bill.
Perhaps sponsors of bills in the future will decide that it is just easier to accept our side's language that essentially verifies that what is promised on enforcement actually happens.
WHAT DID WE LEARN AND ACCOMPLISH?
First, we escaped a potential disaster in which much of southern Arizona would be largely off-limits to intense Border Patrol activity -- while becoming more and more ON-limits to drug traffickers and human smugglers.
Second, we sent a clear message to the Pelosi regime that it can't count on its Democratic Members to deliver majorities to the open-borders agenda.
I don't believe for a minute that Pelosi isn't able to continue to arm-twist, threaten and make promises to keep a lot of those 85 Democrats in line. But we learned today that 85 Democrats definitely want their constituents to see them on OUR side.
For those entities trying to force Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid to bring comprehensive amnesty up for a vote, their job got a lot harder today. How does Pelosi get a majority for an amnesty when 85 Democrats wouldn't hold with her on an obscure issue that was getting ZERO media attention today?
Finally, we learned a lot about all of you in the NumbersUSA membership.
THE ONLY ENTITY MOBILIZING AND PUBLICLY PROMOTING PASSAGE OF THE MOTION TO RECOMMIT TODAY was NumbersUSA's army of committed volunteer citizen activists. Even though most of the nation will never know what you did today, it owes you thanks.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, Sep 24th 2009 @ 1:43pm EDT