Ed Schultz Falsely Claims Obama Didn't Help Kill Immigration Reform in 2007

June 27th, 2012 12:48 AM

It really is pathetic that MSNBC is allowed to call itself a "news network."

Adding to his long list of falsehoods spoken on the farce of a cable station that employs him, Ed Schultz on Tuesday dishonestly claimed Barack Obama didn't have a hand in killing immigration reform in 2007 (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):

In a segment ironically accusing numerous GOPers of lying, Schultz said:

ED SCHULTZ: Republicans love to do this stuff, stir the pot as often as they can with outright lies. Senator Jon Kyl took it a statement farther. He says, “The bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill I helped draft in 2007 was killed, in part, by then Senator Obama.” Folks, that simply is not true. Then Senator Obama voted in favor of Bush's 2007 immigration plan and Kyl was part of the filibuster against it.

Schultz got this nonsense from Talking Points Memo's Tuesday piece entitled "Jon Kyl Blames Obama For Failure Of Immigration Reform Under Bush":

The problem: Obama voted in favor of Bush’s 2007 immigration legislation, while Kyl joined the filibuster that quashed it.

Almost a verbatim quote.

The problem: Schultz and his cracker jack crew took TPM at their word and didn't bother to investigate their claim. If they had, they would have discovered something called the Dorgan amendment.

The Associated Press reported on June 7, 2007:

A proposed immigration overhaul narrowly survived several strong Senate challenges Wednesday, but it suffered a potentially deal-breaking setback early Thursday.

Shortly after midnight, the Senate voted 49-48 to end a new temporary worker program after five years. The vote reversed the one-vote outcome on the same amendment offered both times by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. two weeks ago. Six senators switched their votes, reflecting the issue's political volatility.

This was one of three amendments that "were seen as potentially fatal blows to the fragile coalition backing the [immigration] bill."

Who cast the deciding vote for the Dorgan amendment? The AP reported that same day (via LexisNexis, no link available, emphasis added):

June 7, 2007 Thursday 1:51 PM GMT

How they voted: Senate vote by party on immigration amendment

BYLINE: By The Associated Press


LENGTH: 327 words

The 49-48 roll call by which the Senate passed an amendment to the proposed immigration overhaul that would end a temporary worker program after five years.

On this vote, a "yes" vote was a vote to end the program after five years and a "no" vote was a vote against adding this time limit to the program.

Voting "yes" were 37 Democrats, 11 Republicans and one independent.

Voting "no" were 10 Democrats, 37 Republicans and one independent.

Democrats Yes

Baucus, Mont.; Bayh, Ind.; Biden, Del.; Bingaman, N.M.; Boxer, Calif.; Brown, Ohio; Byrd, W.Va.; Cardin, Md.; Casey, Pa.; Clinton, N.Y.; Conrad, N.D.; Dorgan, N.D.; Durbin, Ill.; Feingold, Wis.; Harkin, Iowa; Inouye, Hawaii; Klobuchar, Minn.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.; Lautenberg, N.J.; Leahy, Vt.; Levin, Mich.; McCaskill, Mo.; Menendez, N.J.; Mikulski, Md.; Murray, Wash.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Obama, Ill.; Reed, R.I.; Reid, Nev.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Schumer, N.Y.; Stabenow, Mich.; Tester, Mont.; Webb, Va.; Wyden, Ore.

The late Robert Novak observed the following week:

Democrat Byron Dorgan, who seldom has tasted legislative success during 15 years in the Senate, scored a dubious victory last week. He was able to insert a poison pill in the immigration reform bill that aimed at emasculating the essential guest worker program. The 49 to 48 vote that passed Dorgan's amendment included surprising support from two prominent first-term senators: Jim DeMint, a conservative Republican from South Carolina, and Barack Obama. [...]

The Dorgan amendment is a classic poison pill: designed to kill, not improve, the bill. Its passage makes resurrection of immigration reform all the more difficult. Decisive votes by DeMint and Obama were not appreciated by the bipartisan group that had crafted the bargain intended to secure America's borders while permitting an orderly flow of temporary workers. [...]

Obama's vote for the poison pill was unexpected because he had participated, uninvited, one time in the bipartisan negotiating process. He had demanded and won a provision permitting immigrants to stay on the job after being designated "not employable" by the government under the new system until their appeals were exhausted. Obama's support for the Dorgan amendment then infuriated Republicans in the negotiating group who had opposed the concession to the presidential candidate.

The reality is that this amendment led many pro-business Republicans including Kyl to change their opinion on the entire bill, and this was largely what sank it.

The following year, as the presidential campaign was in full-swing, the Christian Science Monitor agreed with this view on April 17, 2008:

Obama was part of the bipartisan group of senators who began meeting in 2005 on comprehensive immigration reform. But last summer, with the presidential nominating race well under way, Obama backed 11th-hour amendments - supported by labor, immigrant rights, and clergy groups - that Republicans saw as imperiling the fragile compromise.

None of those measures passed. But Obama was part of a 49-to-48 majority that voted to end after five years a temporary worker program that had been a cornerstone of the immigration deal. The vote, backed by labor, was seen as a major setback to bipartisan negotiations.

The issue of Obama's responsibility in killing immigration reform surfaced again in 2010. Here's what Politifact found in July of that year:

On June 6 [2007], Obama proposed an amendment to end after five years a new merit-based system for awarding green cards that confer permanent resident status. The new system would have apportioned green cards based on the nation's economic needs and moved away from the existing system, which rewards family ties. A coalition of immigrant rights groups endorsed Obama's measure, saying the new system would discriminate in favor of immigrants with higher education and training in specialty occupations. But Obama's amendment was unsuccessful; the Senate rejected it, 42-55.

Hours later, though, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., offered an amendment to end after five years a different program, one that allowed more temporary workers. Dorgan said the program would bring in cheap labor through the back door and squeeze out American workers. Supporters of reform warned that the amendment could scuttle the deal, but the Senate adopted the amendment in a 49-48 vote, with Obama voting with Dorgan.

The bill's supporters branded Dorgan's effort a "deal-breaker." Soon after, the legislation collapsed amid three failed votes to cut off debate on June 7, 2007.

FactCheck.org voiced its opinion in August 2010:

It is true that Obama voted for an amendment, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and supported by labor unions, that would have ended the temporary worker program after five years. Business groups and some Republicans supported the temporary worker program as a way to increase the labor pool, but unions opposed it for fear it would take jobs from U.S. citizens and drive down wages.

The Dorgan amendment was opposed by the bill’s chief negotiators — Sens. Edward Kennedy, a Democrat, and Arlen Specter, who was a Republican at the time — for fear it would undermine the bill. It passed June 6, 2007, by a single vote, 49-48, so Obama’s vote was critical. Specter called the addition of the amendment to the bill a "tremendous problem."

The immigration bill failed a crucial test vote just a day after the Dorgan amendment was added. The bill’s supporters sought to end debate on the bill and bring it up for a final floor vote, but they fell far short of the 60 votes they needed — gaining only 34 votes. Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who was among a small group of pro-business Republicans considering voting for the bill, voted against ending the filibuster — calling the Dorgan amendment a "poison pill."

The bill died for good June 28, when there was a second attempt to bring debate to a close and vote on the bill. That attempt failed by 14 votes.

No matter how you slice it, Kyl was quite correct in saying, “The bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill I helped draft in 2007 was killed, in part, by then Senator Obama.”

TPM was wrong as was Schultz.

Sadly, such abysmal journalism is at the heart of America's ignorance of politics and current events.

Even worse, this kind of shoddy reporting allowed a totally unqualified junior senator to attain the highest office in the land.

Now these same incompetents are doing the best they can to ensure him a second term including once again misrepresenting the truth.

How they continue to get away with it and remain in business is anyone's guess.