Remember that rumor over the weekend about Reid splitting the amnesty bill into a bunch of different amendments to soak up the time alloted for debate and shut out Jeff Sessions and the anti-amnesty funky bunch? Well, the AP confirmed it last night. Mind you, that’s in tandem with his using Rule 14 to fast-track the bill so that it needn’t suffer the indignity of going through committee first. Soon we’ll be treated to the chicanery of Republican fencesitters voting to give the amnesty wing its 60 votes for cloture and then voting no on the bill itself so that they can tell their constituents with a half-straight face that they were against the bill. The only cheap, anti-democratic maneuver that they haven’t suggested is an agreement that the bill needs less than 50 votes to pass. And rest assured, if not for the constitutional hurdle, they’d be trying that too.
So perhaps it’s time to “re-orient” ourselves away from the Senate and towards the House. Sir Tancelot’s already given us a reason to hope. Now comes word from the WashTimes that man’s best friend, the Blue Dog Democrats, might be ready to chew this one up:
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.
Music to the House GOP’s ears, but why would the Dems go for it? Answer: Because a bunch of their freshmen come from conservativish districts and could be looking at a rough time next year with the scarlet “A” pinned to their chests.
Clear divisions exist on the House side, where several freshman Democrats, such as Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas, a member of the Immigration Reform Caucus, oppose the current Senate plan.
“Congress needs to prove to the American people that it can control the borders, and that comes with addressing border security first and only until that trust can be restored,” said Boyda spokeswoman Shanan Guinn. “Until you take care of that problem, talking about anything else is not going to satisfy rebuilding that trust.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting dozens of freshman Democrats, such as Mrs. Boyda, who captured seats in conservative districts President Bush won in 2004.
“This is the Democrats’ dilemma: Either [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi forces their vulnerable members to walk the plank and vote against the interests and values of their districts, or she has another broken promise on her hands,” said NRCC spokesman Ken Spain.
The vote on Tancredo’s measure to deny emergency funding to sanctuary cities went 234-189, with 49 Democrats voting in favor. Pelosi would have to flip 29 of them to get a majority for amnesty while also being careful not to alienate any far-left, open-borders Dems in the course of making concessions to the Republicans. Or, alternatively, Bush could try to swing a few House GOP members her way. But what possible reason at this point could congressional Republicans have for doing Bush’s bidding?
Update: The battle lines are drawn.
In a sharp rebuke to President Bush, House Republicans today introduced their own immigration reform and border security bill, a tough measure that would bar illegal immigrants from gaining legal status, require employers to check the legal status of all workers and make English the nation’s official language.
The Secure Borders First Act stresses operational control over the border as one of its core principles. The bill would reject “amnesty” and insist that the administration do more to enforce existing laws…
The new bill addresses major issues in immigration but it also turns a microscope on smaller issues that particularly frustrate conservatives. It would ban the use of matricula consular cards, identification cards issued by Mexican consulates and used by immigrants to open bank accounts or buy homes. It would make three convictions for drunk driving grounds for deportation…
Workers would not be able to bring their family and would not be able to gain citizenship, and one-quarter of their wages would be held in escrow to be picked up at the border when they returned home. They could stay for up to 22 months at a time and could participate repeatedly in the program but would have to return home between work periods for a duration of one-fifth the length of their stay in the U.S.
The bill would require the detention and deportation of all gang members. Currently, gang members are not deportable unless they have committed a crime.