WASHINGTON – Even as the Senate voted Tuesday to restart the stalled debate on immigration legislation, Democratic support for the bill appeared to be slipping, and could jeopardize it as much as fierce Republican opposition does.Immigration bill's support slipping: The Senate votes to resume debate on the border measure, but with the backing of fewer Democrats, By Nicole Gaouette and Noam N. Levey, June 27 2007.
A handful of Democrats who could be crucial to the bill's fate, including California's Barbara Boxer, remains undecided. And Tuesday, five Democrats who welcomed debate on the issue a month ago switched position and voted to oppose further discussion of the bill.
The 64-35 procedural vote to move to a debate – four more votes than the required 60 – resuscitated the controversial bill, which collapsed earlier this month in a partisan dispute. But the vote also exposed hardened opposition among Republicans and increased skepticism among Democrats.
Of course, the Senate did not actually vote to resume debate: it voted to curtail debate— cloture—which everyone sees as the only way to get the thing through, in itself evidence of its weakness. I've written before that immigration enthusiasts in D.C. can never be written off and the whole struggle may be about to move to another and even more unpleasant plane. But a quick check of the embattled group of immigration reform patriots in the imperial capital finds them also surprisingly optimistic—assuming America's backlash continues.