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Update: After publishing this item on April 12, 2010, we received new information, including video of a town hall meeting in Yuma, a comment from Sen. Jon Kyl's staff and more information about the Yuma Sun report. We have updated this item on April 13 to fully reflect the new information. The ruling, however, remains the same -- False.
What Sen. Jon Kyl did or didn't say about immigration at a town hall in Yuma, Ariz., was in dispute on ABC News' This Week.
Host Jake Tapper asked Kyl, "You helped lead the cause of immigration reform in 2007. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he is going to bring up immigration reform. You said the other day in Yuma, Ariz., that Republicans will use the opportunity to filibuster. Are you going to help with the filibuster of immigration reform?"
"I don't think I said that, Jake, but what I did say is that the conditions for immigration reform no longer exist," Kyl said. "The consensus that existed before does not exist. And among other reasons, because the administration -- this current administration has not done what's necessary to secure the border and enforce the law. We just saw the tragic death of a rancher down on the border, presumably from drug smugglers or illegal immigrants, that simply illustrates once again the fact that we have not controlled the border. And until that's done, I think it's going to be very difficult for Congress to support legislation that would be as comprehensive as that I supported three years ago."
The answer indicates Kyl is not optimistic about immigration reform, but we wanted to find out whether Kyl said Republicans would filibuster or not.
Kyl made his remarks at a town hall attended by 350 people in Yuma, Ariz., on April 7, according to a report in the Yuma Sun, a daily newspaper owned by Freedom Communications. The newspaper reported the filibuster remark, though very briefly. Here's what the paper's report said:
One man in the audience asked Kyl about the GOP's strategy to curtail the efforts of the Democrat-controlled Congress and executive branch.
"First of all, our strategy on health care included taking as long as we possibly could so the American people could clearly understand (it).. and it took a year for it to get done," Kyl said, adding they will do their best to slow up any other bills, like immigration reform, in the same manner.
"My guess is (immigration reform) won't have the votes to pass, but political promises have been made to key constituency of the party that is in power. Republicans will use the opportunity to filibuster..."
Kyl's remarks did not go unnoticed. The Wonk Room, a liberal blog run by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, linked to the Sun's report and noted that Kyl's remarks were "the first time a high-ranking GOP member has threatened to block reform entirely."
Tapper's question -- "You said the other day in Yuma, Ariz., that Republicans will use the opportunity to filibuster. Are you going to help with the filibuster of immigration reform?" -- was a verbatim repeat of the quote the Sun reported.
But the Sun's quotation of Kyl -- "Republicans will use the opportunity to filibuster" -- is a little off.
Kyl's staff provided us with a transcript and video; they said it showed more context for Kyl's statement. We reviewed the material; here's an extended version of Kyl remarks.
"My guess is, neither (card check and immigration reform) will have the votes to pass. But because political promises have been made to key constituency of the party that is in power, that they're going to do something about these problems, they will bring up very partisan legislation. Republicans will, primarily Republicans, will vote it down, that is to say we will prevent it from coming up through the filibuster, through requiring cloture and they won't get 60 votes. And then they’ll be able to blame us for being anti-union or anti-Hispanic or whatever. It's false, but that’s the political game. But at least those things won't pass."
On April 13, the Yuma Sun said it would run a correction on the quote. But Tapper's summary of the misquote is still a fair account of what Kyl said. And of course, there are no quote marks on broadcast television. If anything, the video makes a stronger case that Kyl believes Republicans will filibuster immigration reform, which was the premise of Tapper's question.
Kyl's staff told us he only meant that Republicans would filibuster a purely partisan bill, not the kind of bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that Kyl put forward with Sen. Edward Kennedy in 2007. That's why Kyl objected to Tapper's premise.
Still, Tapper's question -- "You said the other day in Yuma, Ariz., that Republicans will use the opportunity to filibuster. Are you going to help with the filibuster of immigration reform?" -- remains an fair summary (though not a quotation) of Kyl's town hall remarks. The video showed that Kyl predicted a Republican filibuster. So Kyl's statement -- that he didn't say Republicans will use the opportunity to filibuster -- is False.
ABC News, Supreme Court Vacancy: Sen. Jon Kyl and Sen. Charles Schumer on replacing Justice Stevens, April 11, 2010
The Yuma Sun, More than 350 attend Kyl's town hall meeting, April 8, 2010
Wonk Room, Kyl Threatens To Filibuster Immigration Reform In 2010 After Co-Sponsoring Immigration Reform In 2007, April 9, 2010
PBS Newshour, interview with Sen. Jon Kyl, March 23, 2010
Phoenix Business Journal, McCain, Kyl address AZ Chamber, April 5, 2010
E-mail interview with Roxanne Molenar of the Yuma Sun
Interview with Ryan Patmintra, spokesperson for Sen. Jon Kyl
Town hall meeting in Yuma, Ariz., April 7, 2010, accessed April 13, 2010
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