Seemingly Dead Immigration Reform Bill Revived By Senators
Just when some people thought it was dead, it has come alive again.
Like Jason, the hockey-mask wearing killer in Friday the 13th, the supposedly dead immigration reform bill has (seemingly) come alive again:
Senate Democratic and Republican leaders announced on Thursday that they had agreed on a way to revive a comprehensive immigration bill that was pulled off the Senate floor seven days ago.
The majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, and the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said they expected the bill to return to the floor before the Fourth of July recess.
In a joint statement, Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell said: â€œWe met this evening with several of the senators involved in the immigration bill negotiations. Based on that discussion, the immigration bill will return to the Senate floor after completion of the energy bill.â€
Question: conservative talk radio plus other political and interest groups were blamed for the short-circuiting of the last bipartisan deal that was touted as being immigration reform that could pass and would (finally) begin to deal with the twin issues of stricter border enforcement and what to do about those who are already here illegally.
Will press coverage of a new deal spur a renewed effort to kill the bill before it comes to a vote? The New York Times again:
The immigration bill, ardently sought by President Bush, would make the biggest changes in immigration law and policy in more than 20 years.
It would increase border security, crack down on companies that employ illegal immigrants, establish a guest worker program and offer legal status to most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.
The agreement does not guarantee that the bill will be approved by the Senate or become law.
Supporters of the bipartisan bill predict that some conservative Republicans will try to block a vote on final passage, because of concerns about the legalization program.
Predicting â€œprocedural barriers,â€ Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership team, said, â€œThree or four senators will try to block every amendment.â€
But problems don’t end there:
The House has held many hearings on immigration this year. House Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have expressed concerns about major provisions of the Senate bill, including one that would give less weight to family ties in deciding who can immigrate to the United States.
A White House spokesman, Scott M. Stanzel, said, â€œWe are encouraged by the announcement from Senate leaders that comprehensive immigration reform will be brought back up for consideration.â€
But Bush — to his detriment or credit (depending on where you stand on the issue) — has been making passage of this bill a personal issue. The AP:
President Bush called for $4.4 billion in accelerated funding for “securing our borders and enforcing our laws at the work site” Thursday, as his administration and key senators struggled to revive controversial immigration legislation.
“We’re going to show the American people that the promises in this bill will be kept,” Bush said, two days after launching a personal rescue mission.
The measure’s most controversial feature envisions eventual citizenship for many of the estimated 12 million immigrants now in the country unlawfully. At the same time, it calls for greater border security and a crackdown on the hiring of illegal employees.
Bush made his remarks a few blocks from the Capitol, where the bill’s supporters said they were closing in on a tentative agreement that could clear the way for the measure’s revival within two weeks.
Under the plan, Republicans and Democrats would each be accorded several chances to amend the measure, with the understanding that they would then combine to provide the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster by die-hard opponents.
Any agreement is subject to approval by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has said repeatedly it is up to Bush and Republicans to line up the votes needed to advance the measure if it is to be brought back to the Senate for debate. Reid, who has expressed misgivings about elements of the bill, sidetracked it last week after supporters gained on our immigration laws. Understandably, the lack of credibility the federal government has on this issue gives merit to the skepticism of many about future immigration reform.”
Under the legislation as drafted, money for border enforcement would be collected gradually as illegal immigrants pay the fines and fees needed to achieve legal status. The letter asked Bush to secure the border before other elements of the immigration measure go into effect, and the president agreed in his remarks to the Associated Builders and Contractors.
Question: how will this play with Democrats and Republicans in the House?
And how will it play among conservative and progressive talk radio hosts…and political bloggers who can help create (positive or negative) “buzz” on an issue?
If it passes, Bush will consider it a vital part of his legacy. But part of the GOP’s base is steadfastly opposed to anything that can even be remotely considered an “amnesty.” The GOP is caught in a pincer: some say it needs Hispanic votes to survive in the long-term; others say the importance of the Hispanic vote is overblown and that the GOP should not be pandering to voters who will probably vote Democratic anyway.
One likely outcome: if immigration reform is not passed before the July 4th recess, it may not happen in this session of Congress since Senators will likely run into political buzzsaws of pro and con voters on this bill…and it may be deemed too hot to handle.
Which would probably mean: delay it some more and angrily blame inaction on the other side.