Thwarting the Senate on E-Verify: Why Did the Senate President Go with the Highly Unusual Voice Vote Rather Than the Far More Accurate Electronic Vote?
[See my post for a recitation of events and Andrew’s post for a description of bill procedure and why democracy within the Capitol is too often considered a “parliamentary trick” by leadership.]
This is the question that I asked the office of the Senate President four times over the course of three days last week: why a voice rather than an electronic vote on the smirky motion by the Majority Leader to send the e-verify bill back to committee, effectively killing it?
In the conspicuous absence of a reply and an alternate explanation, we gravitate towards the most obvious answer: a voice vote permitted the Senate President to “hear” the result that she desired – a vote to kill e-verify – and if an electronic vote had been taken, the members of the Senate would have had the opportunity to cross and contradict their leader. This was a risk that she was evidently not prepared to take.
Now we need to look at what compelled the Senate President to take the egregious step of thwarting the will of the Senate. Let’s see, the continued exploitation of undocumented workers, the deprivation of jobs to legal immigrants and citizens in the face of 13% unemployment, the suppression of precious tax revenue to the state with the perpetuation of under-the-table employment, disrespect for those people who immigrated here in conformance with our laws. References have also been made to the employers – mostly restaurants – within the Senate President’s district who use cost-saving illegal labor.
Ultimately, however, the answer is that nothing should have come ahead of the will of the Senate. Quite simply, in putting her own interest and desires ahead of the Senate, she went too far.
And while some senators may have agreed with the Senate President on the outcome of this particular matter, they need to ask themselves: what happens when something that they care about comes up in the future but, unlike this week, they find themselves on the “wrong” side of the issue in the eyes of a Senate President who has demonstrated that she is willing to set aside the sledge hammer traditionally wielded by Smith Hill leadership and pick up a lighter and a stick of dynamite?
Andrew was not altogether wrong. Leadership is only as powerful as rank and file legislators permit. When a leader overreaches, members are well within their right to seek a leader more amenable to placing personal/political self interests secondary to the will of the body.