Immigration "hearings" kill reform at least for this year
see "House Derails Bush Immigration Overhaul" (LA Times, 6/20/06)
By announcing that there will be hearings on immigration, House Republican leaders were giving code for "there will be no conference that includes the Senate Immigration Bill."
The LA Times and other outlets are calling this a huge setback for President Bush, but my take is that it is only a small setback because the Senate bill was so abhorrent to the conservative base and even to more moderate voters (like me).
Indeed, some Senate Republicans must be breathing a sigh of relief. If a conference committee had passed through a bill which was anything close to the Senate bill (something which would have been exceedingly unlikely, I admit) it would have been a disaster for many GOP senators who are up for re-election in close races, not so much because voters would have switched to the Democrat but rather that they would just have stayed home out of disgust.
Given that the only likely outcome of a conference was an inability to get agreement on a bill, the "hearings" is the best that the President could have hoped for after a few GOP Senators like John McCain effectively stabbed Bush in the back by siding with Democrats on a Bill which included such outrageous provisions as implicitly allowing illegals to claim Social Security benefits.
The House Republicans can be confident that they are doing the right thing: Ted Kennedy opposes the hearings, so they must be a good idea.
Here's the version that went to the Chicago Tribune in response to their article "Immigration bill delayed by House" (6/20/06)
To the Editors:
The move by House Republicans to hold hearings on immigration is less of a defeat for President Bush than a House-Senate conference on their bills would have been. The only possible outcome from a conference would have been massive and public divisions within the GOP and a failure to reach agreement.
Killing any further progress toward the Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill is the best “defeat” Republicans up for election could have hoped for. Rather than be upset with House Republican leaders, President Bush should be upset with John McCain. He and a few other Republicans voted with Democrats to support a bill which is objectionable not only to the conservative base but to more moderate voters as well.
If “defeat” means that we won’t be giving illegal aliens Social Security benefits and otherwise rewarding law-breaking, then this is a defeat President Bush and all sane Republicans should revel in.
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