WASHINGTON – Senators Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and 10 other Senators are urging Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to keep a sweeping anti-immigration proposal off the Supplemental Appropriations bill lest expedited passage of this essential funding bill is jeopardized. The REAL ID Act, authored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., would significantly change current immigration and asylum policy, without benefit of hearings or deliberative debate, the Senators said in a letter to Frist. Sensenbrenner failed to attach his legislation to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004, approved by Congress last fall and signed into law by President Bush December 17, 2004.
“Because of its magnitude, this legislation should be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on a schedule that provides adequate time for full and careful consideration,” the letter said. “Legislating in such a complex area without the benefit of hearings and expert testimony is a dubious exercise and one that subverts the Senate’s deliberative process. “ The letter is also signed by Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., John Sununu, R-N.H., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Ken Salazar, D-Colo. Following is text of the letter: The Honorable William Frist, M.D. April 11, 2005 Majority Leader United States Senate Washington, DC 20510 Dear Senator Frist: We remain deeply committed to protecting our troops by providing the men and women of the U.S. armed forces with every tool and resource needed to fight the insurgency in Iraq and provide relief to the victims of the tsunami. Absent a commitment that the supplemental bill will not be used as a vehicle for controversial agendas, we are concerned that its expedited enactment will be jeopardized by inclusion of the “REAL ID” Act. Thus, we write urging you to oppose any attempts to attach this legislation to the emergency supplemental spending bill and to commit that it will not appear in a conference report that returns to the Senate for consideration. The REAL ID Act would make major shifts in immigration and asylum policy, and therefore should be considered carefully and deliberately. Accordingly, we urge you to ensure that the Senate follows normal parliamentary procedures when it takes up the REAL ID Act. Because of its magnitude, this legislation should be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on a schedule that provides adequate time for full and careful consideration. Legislating in such a complex area without the benefit of hearings and expert testimony is a dubious exercise and one that subverts the Senate’s deliberative process. By following these procedures, the Senate will ensure swift passage of vital funds for our armed forces and tsunami relief while properly examining the important issues of securing our borders. We know that you share this goal, and we look forward to your leadership and assistance. Sincerely, Senator Sam Brownback Senator Joseph I. Lieberman Senator John McCain Senator Dianne Feinstein Senator Lamar Alexander Senator Patrick J. Leahy Senator John E. Sununu Senator Richard J. Durbin Senator Chuck Hagel Senator Edward M. Kennedy Senator Richard C. Lugar Senator Ken Salazar