June 19, 2007

So Why Can't The Senate Do It?

Critics of the immigration reform bill in the Senate have asked repeatedly why Congress can't address border security and visa-system overhauls first before addressing normalization and guest-worker programs. Even those of us who do not oppose some form of normalization as part of a national-security effort understand that Congress needs to build trust with the American people on the two key portions of controlling entry into and exit from the United States before creating huge new bureaucracies to deal with the 12 million people already illegally in the US. However, when asked, Senators talk about triggers instead of severability.

The House, however, seems to have few problems with severability, at least in theory:

House Democrats say they may break the immigration issue up into a series of smaller bills that would put off the tougher parts and allow others to pass, such as border security, and high-tech and agriculture worker programs that have clear support.

That could buy Democrats more time to work out the tougher aspects of immigration, such as what to do about the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens now here, but it would go against the Senate's massive catchall approach and contradicts President Bush's call for a broad bill to pass. ...

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, says he is committed to getting a "comprehensive" bill done before releasing the Senate for its Fourth of July vacation, and he has the support of top Republican leaders.

In the House, though, Republicans are more uniformly opposed, and many vulnerable freshman Democrats could be hurt by a bill labeled "amnesty." That leaves Democratic leaders trying to see what they can pass.

In our interview last week, Rep. Tim Walberg said that the House would take a very different approach to immigration. Walberg also told us then that the GOP caucus in the House almost unanimously opposed the Senate approach to immigration, and that the prospects were not good that a bill could even get past a conference committee. It makes sense; all 435 House members face the voters in 2008, and they are much more vulnerable to voter anger. The Senate only has one-third of its members running for re-election in any given cycle, and can afford to be less responsive in the short run.

House leadership has apparently read the polls in this case. They know that the American public supports some rational form of normalization by a thin majority, but that they overwhelmingly support strengthening border security and visa programs first. They want to take the common-sense approach of fixing the actual underlying problems that create illegal immigration first, and then worry about correcting the symptoms once the problems have been resolved.

House Republicans encourage this approach. Eric Cantor, the deputy whip for the GOP, rightly says that Congress has to rebuild trust with the public on border security before we will accept the rest of the package. Those portions of the bill in the Senate, Cantor says, is no more than what Congress has already passed and then effectively ignored. Attempting to foist that on the American public again will anger the electorate, and not just conservatives.

If the House can figure out a way to effectively tackle immigration one step at a time, why can't the Senate?


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» Good Question from Sarge Says
Ed over at Captain’s Quarters has asked “So Why Can’t The Senate Do It?”  I wish I had an answer for him.  But here is one that you, the voter, needs to consider.  As pointed out by Ed, all 435 seats in the House are up for ... [Read More]

Comments (10)

Posted by howard lohmuller | June 19, 2007 7:10 AM

The Senate appears to many Americans to be getting ready to redecorate their chamber to look like a cruise ship.

Posted by Papa Ray | June 19, 2007 7:21 AM

"If the House can figure out a way to effectively tackle immigration one step at a time, why can't the Senate?"

For the same reason they can't get anything else done. Select Senators (mainly democrats), but a few Repubs too, are too busy blocking everything logical or good for America.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Posted by The Yell | June 19, 2007 7:45 AM

"Er, yes," said the Captain, "yes, it's all part of the plan I think. There was a terribly good reason for it which I can't quite remember at the moment. It was something to with ... er ..."

Ford exploded.

"You're a load of useless bloody loonies!" he shouted.

"Ah yes, that was it," beamed the Captain, "that was the reason."--The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Douglas Adams

Posted by Bachbone | June 19, 2007 8:03 AM

When I tried e-mailing House Minority leader John Boehner's office on this issue a few days ago, it would not accept anything from outside Ohio. I hope his conservative Ohio constituents are letting him know, in no uncertain terms, their feelings.

Posted by RBMN | June 19, 2007 9:15 AM

House members are also aware of what's possible in the Senate today, and realize that to get a bill on the President's desk, and also make the Republican base happy, is darn near impossible. They have to know, that straying too far from the Senate compromise is just a form of sabotage, which might be what they're choosing.

Posted by Philip | June 19, 2007 10:35 AM

The answer is pandering. And it shows the divisions of power between the House, Senate and the Executive in stark relief. This bill will go down. The trick is to remember that everyone agreed that enforcement should happen. We cannot let the amnesty supports off of that hook!

(been reading here for years - first comment post!)

Posted by Bill Faith | June 19, 2007 12:10 PM

Ed, you answered your own question earlier in the post. Every House member has to face the voters next fall while only about a third of the House of Lords does.

Related aside: I just finished American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day a couple of days ago and was left with nothing but admiration for the man John McCain used to be; it's just a shame he started to change so soon after he got home. He's been turning his back on his fellow vets and fellow Americans for at least 30 years now.

I added an excerpt and link to my 2006.06.19 "No Illegal Left Behind" Roundup.

Posted by Bill Faith | June 19, 2007 12:14 PM

I just submitted a comment that apparently contained one too many links for your spam filter. Part of what it said was:

Ed, you answered your own question earlier in the post. Every House member has to face the voters next fall while only about a third of the House of Lords does.

I added an excerpt and link to my 2006.06.19 "No Illegal Left Behind" Roundup.

Posted by patrick neid | June 19, 2007 5:18 PM

when certain obvious things are not being done it has to be a negotiating tactic. perhaps the senate wants to get their bill to the house where they know it will be carved up and then sent to conference. so they are sending their dream bill knowing full well that at least 50% is history by the time it gets to the conference.

Posted by maverick muse | June 19, 2007 5:30 PM

Meanwhile, the illegal aliens are setting wild fires in Arizona's Coronado National Forest where water is an extremely limited commodity. Firefighters must be accompanied by armed lawmen because of these violent terrorists who shoot to kill.

Enforce the law, and to blazes with the idea of amnesty this time around.

More's the pity. We all used to enjoy celebrating Cinco de Mayo together. But these past few years, Gringo's aren't welcome at Hispanic community celebrations in Texas, the State with a rich history of six varied national flags.

As a sixth generation Southwesterner, I am disgusted with law enforcement's lack of direction and support to protect US citizens from criminal activity by there illegal alien criminals.

Mexicans violently invade US territories. Through the first decade of the 20th Century, Mexican bandit snipers were shooting US citizens who had been losing their lives and livelihoods to Mexican bandits for years. Today, Bush and McCain would award Pancho Villa honorary US citizenship and thank him for his hard work bringing so much misery to American citizens including my grandparents. A hundred years ago, the desert Southwest was not the easiest place for farmers to survive, let alone thrive. Bandits took life, not just material possessions. Most people today have absolutely no idea how hard it was to "go west, young man" and make a go of it in the desert wilderness. Regardless of nationality, most people only move to a location AFTER it is developed and cultivated into a thriving community--easy pickings.

Daniel P. Gillotti wrote @ LZHurricane:

"The 82nd FA Regimental motto "Can and Will" are reflective of a spirit steeped in traditions of men doing what needs to be regardless of the obstacles to be overcome.
The 15th Cavalry Division and the 82nd FA Regt were specifically trained and equipped for border service. The Mexican rebel, General Francisco " Pancho" Villa, had been causing problems in cross border raids, and had committed acts of aggression against US citizens and soldiers for a number of years. A Punitive Expedition led by BG John J. Pershing into Mexico had been carried out in 1916-1917. A number of Pancho Villa's rebel forces were killed or captured and his forces were scattered. But Pancho Villa was never caught."

On June 16, 1919, the 82nd FA Regiment again honorably protected our US border from the Mexican snipers and Villa whose attempted coup of the Mexican government spilled over the border to afflict the US Southwest as well.

Would that Bush would do his sworn duty to protect our sovereign national borders and the integrity of US citizenship with all of our Constitutional Rights and impugn illegal entry.