You’d think the Massachusetts Senate would have had enough disgrace for one year.
In another late-night session with much of the public heading off to bed, Democratic senators pushed through a “budget” amendment that had nothing to do with the budget but everything to do with crass politics.
The amendment would all but establish Massachusetts as a “sanctuary state” — preventing state and local authorities from asking immigrants about their residency status and essentially restricting collaboration between Massachusetts law enforcement and federal immigration officials.
“We will all rest easier once this is law,” proclaimed state Sen. Barbara L’Italien in a giddy press release announcing the vote.
L’Italien, of course, is running for office — the 3rd District congressional seat — and this amendment plays perfectly with liberal voters and immigrants who are incensed about the Trump administration’s enforcement of immigration law.
And that’s what this is all about. State senators who just got done with the scandal surrounding newly resigned Sen.
Stanley Rosenberg and his estranged husband’s alleged sexual assaults couldn’t pass this through the normal legislative process, but they badly wanted some kind of victory. So they abused the budget process to get their amendment rammed through.
What does immigration have to do with the state budget? Nothing, of course, but that doesn’t matter in the state Legislature. Senators also pushed through an amendment allowing candidates to use their campaign funds for baby-sitting expenses — another nonbudget item that couldn’t get through the normal legislative process.
The immigration amendment has little chance of passage in the more moderate House and Gov. Charlie Baker has already vowed to veto it.
But that doesn’t matter either, because Democrats got to put out their press releases vowing to protect immigrants.
“To do it under the cover of darkness as an amendment, it reeks of creepy back room (dealing),” Rick Green, Republican candidate for the 3rd District congressional seat, said of the immigration amendment. “The process was just horrible. It was all political.”
And of course now Green and other Republicans are using it for political purposes — to serve their own constituencies.
The 25-13 vote in favor of the amendment was actually close for the Legislature. Normally every Democrat will get behind one of their own proposals, but in this case seven Democrats voted against the so-called “safe communities” amendment.
“I feel badly for our body at the moment,” said Republican Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, noting that the amendment “won’t be considered by the House, would be rejected by the governor and is not viable in this building.”
But reality is not what’s important here. It’s all about politics and elections. That’s what really rules in the Legislature.