On the June 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Brit Hume claimed that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "managed to get" an amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform bill "passed," and that it "may be the killer amendment that ... ends this bill." In fact, Obama's amendment, which would have required the bill's merit-based evaluation system for new visas to expire after five years, failed by a vote of 42-55 -- making it impossible for the measure to have "end[ed]" the immigration bill.
Hume's comments followed an earlier report by Fox News congressional correspondent Major Garrett in which Garrett falsely claimed that a contentious exchange between Obama and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was "over a move to sunset the bill's guest worker program after five years." Garrett reported that Obama "pushed hard for the sunsetting language, drawing the ire of ... Graham" and that the "Senate narrowly approved sunsetting the temporary worker program." In fact, the confrontation between Obama and Graham was over Obama's amendment, which did not address the guest worker program. Garrett also failed to note that Obama's amendment had failed, and that the "narrowly passed" amendment regarding the guest worker program was introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), not Obama, though Obama did support Dorgan's amendment.
As the Associated Press reported on June 7, Obama's amendment would have terminated in five years "a proposed point system that would make it easier for would-be immigrants to obtain visas based on their education levels or work skills rather than on having close relatives already living in the United States." (The bill itself set the point system to expire after 14 years.) The AP also reported that Obama's "amendment infuriated Graham," prompting him to "loudly accuse Obama of undermining a delicate agreement whose advocates have shown political courage." On June 6, the Senate rejected Obama's proposal by a vote of 42-55. An amendment proposed by Dorgan that would have eliminated the guest worker program "after a 5-year period," passed 49-48 several minutes after Obama's amendment was rejected. Obama was among those who voted for Dorgan's amendment.
Hume, however, falsely claimed that Obama's amendment passed. From the June 7 edition of Special Report:
HUME: Folks, that was late last night, and the issue was a measure that the Senate had voted down a couple of weeks ago, which would have ended the guest worker provision in the immigration bill, the guest worker program, after five years. A lot of Republicans favor the guest worker program. A lot of Republican employers favor the guest worker program. It has been a key part of this delicately structured compromise, as it's been called, and [Sen.] Lindsey Graham [R-SC], who is out on a limb and in hot water with a lot of his constituents for backing this bill, watched as Barack Obama, who purports to be the guy who wants to get things done, pushed this amendment and managed to get it passed. That has been thought -- that is -- may be the killer amendment that ends the fate -- that ends this bill, but we'll see.
Earlier in the program, Garrett reported that Obama "pushed hard for the sunsetting language, drawing the ire of South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham." After playing a clip of a contentious exchange between Obama and Graham on the Senate floor, Garrett reported that the "Senate narrowly approved sunsetting the temporary worker program" -- giving no indication that it was Dorgan's, and not Obama's, legislation that the Senate passed:
GARRETT: With the help of an unlikely alliance of Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy and Mississippi Republican Trent Lott, the Senate immigration bill, more despised than loved, appeared to dodge the legislative graveyard for at least one more day, even as more evidence surfaced of public skepticism.
The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll showed 58 percent support enforcement of existing laws. Only 34 percent back an overhaul of immigration laws along the lines of the Senate compromise. Senators worked through yesterday night and into the wee hours of this morning. Tempers flared at times over a move to sunset the bill's guest worker program after five years.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who trades on the ethos of bipartisanship, pushed hard for the sunsetting language, drawing the ire of South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham.
GRAHAM: [video clip] When you are out there on the campaign trail, you are trying to bring us all together. You're trying to make America better. Why can't we work together? This is why we can't work together because some people, when it comes to the tough decisions, back away.
GARRETT: Obama, carrying the torch for organized labor against the temporary worker program, fired back.
OBAMA: [video clip] The notion that somehow that guts the bill or destroys the bill is simply disingenuous, and it's engaging in the sort of histrionics that is entirely inappropriate for this debate.
GARRETT: The Senate narrowly approved sunsetting the temporary worker program, aggravating big business and jeopardizing current Republican support for the entire bill. Today, silent hours of inaction meandered as senators tried to negotiate a path toward final passage, amid the time-wasting drone of the call of the roll.