But for this reporter, the insight into what went wrong for pro-amnesty Republicans began well before the official program. Facebook lobbyist John Shadegg, an unidentified woman, and panelist Cortes shared some pre-game notes on where the pro-reform campaign stood, and they didn’t seem to care who else in the admittedly almost empty room heard them.
Shadegg and Cortes both agreed that immigration reform was still a real possibility this year, and that Republicans could get most of what they wanted on the issue, if only House Republicans would show some leadership and pass a bill. Contrary to popular belief, Shadegg claimed, most conservatives support immigration reform, including many scholars at The Heritage Foundation. Shadegg and the unidentified woman even started listing names of Heritage staffers that they believed supported legalizing illegal immigrants.
Shadegg then explained why the Senate bill, S. 744, died in the House. The problem, Shadegg said, was that the NFIB, NAM, and other pro-reform business groups let the Chamber of Commerce’s Tom Donahue negotiate for them with Senate Democrats. As a result, the final bill was nothing more than a carbon copy of the wish list unions came up with after immigration reform failed in 2007.
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