Friday, September 8, 2006

House Republicans last ditch effort to avert electoral defeat

Facing a tidal wave of voter discontent that could drive their majority out of power this fall, House Republicans announced Thursday that they would try to pass some sort of immigration legislation before November.

Having spent most the summer holding a series of mock hearings on immigration reform intended more to bolster waning support for candidates in tight races and bash the legislation passed by the Senate back in May, they are now faced with a dilemma. In order to insulate themselves from the President’s plummeting popularity, they have staked their hopes of retaining power on a “get tough” immigration policy.

In order to fire up the base, they have promised to close the borders and stem the flow of new immigration. Using terms like “invasion” and “attack on the middle class,” they have succeeded in riling up a segment of the electorate, but they now have a problem. Having worked relentlessly to convince voters that immigration is an urgent and pressing problem… they have been unable to supply anything but empty rhetoric and unfulfilled promises. No proposed legislation has been enacted.

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Hoping to have something to go home and campaign on, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) announced plans to cobble together some sort of package of crackdown legislation that would allow House Republicans some measure of cover as they face a disaffected electorate.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he would convene an unusual forum Wednesday in which Republican committee chairmen would report their findings from immigration hearings held around the country this summer and suggest proposals such as the creation of voter identification cards that the House would try to pass before Congress adjourns.

"It won't be the whole 95 tons of what we've tried to work between the House and Senate, but we will try to get some things done," Hastert, R-Ill., said, emphasizing that the measures would be passed quickly by his house -- although their fate in the Senate is uncertain.

Republicans have made illegal immigration a linchpin to preserving their threatened House majority in the November midterm elections, seeing it as one of the few issues that may work in their favor. Yet after insisting the issue is a crisis, House Republicans can't show voters they've addressed the issue because of an impasse with fellow Republicans in the Senate … Hastert said discussions continue with the Senate but "in the meantime ... there are things we can do right now."


Ratcheting up the rhetoric, Hastert claimed, “We’re at war …Our borders are a sieve. We need to stop the bleeding.”… “Before you have a guest worker program or any other program, you need to heal the wound or stop the bleeding.” Affirming that, "The intention of the House is to secure the borders,"

Majority leader John Boehner (R-OH) laid out plans to pass some interim legislation to build walls along the border, increase Border Patrol Agents and give local law enforcement the authority to enforce federal immigration regulations. The legislation could be attached to appropriations bills to be pushed through the House before the scheduled Sept. 29 adjournment date.

"The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he will continue talking to his Senate counterparts. It's unclear whether the Senate would respond to an enforcement-only measure.”

But at least the House members know they can go home and continue to campaign that they are tough on immigration and will have the legislative record to prove it…. Even if these measures never pass Senate muster.

And that’s been the essence of this issue from the start …it's been a cheap election-year parlor trick to divert a discontented electorate's attention away from the true problems that have not been addressed by the Republican majority. From the failures in Iraq and New Orleans to an economy that favors the top 1% of the population while all others fall behind, it’s always been more about sound bites and inflammatory rhetoric than actual reform of our failing immigration system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"It won't be the whole 95 tons of what we've tried to work between the House and Senate, but we will try to get some things done," Hastert, R-Ill.,

95 tons of what? Elephant dung? Because that seems to be all that the committee chairs will have coming away from these "hearings".