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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Light At The End Of The Tunnel On Immigration Reform

Not to get too many hopes up, but I believe this is called "laying the trump card,"and it does not come a moment too soon:

House conservatives are ready to stop the Senate immigration bill in its tracks with a potent procedural weapon should the contentious measure win passage in the upper chamber.

The trump card conservatives may hold is a constitutional rule that revenue-related bills must originate in the House. The Senate immigration measure requires that illegal immigrants pay back taxes before becoming citizens, opening the door to a House protest, dubbed a “blue slip” for the color of its paper.

House Republicans used the same back-taxes mandate for a blue-slip threat that derailed last year’s immigration conference. The new Senate bill still must survive two more weeks of voter scrutiny and contentious amendments, but several conservatives already are lying in wait for the Senate to “make the same mistake twice,” as one House GOP aide put it.

“If we get an opportunity to do it, believe me, we’ll do it,” the aide said. “I think it’s going to be a matter of who will get there first. A number of people in the House are dying to be fingered as the person who killed [the Senate bill].

”As the bill’s Senate supporters spend the recess fighting a wildfire of grassroots resistance to the immigration deal, which held together after an intense first week, some House Republicans are unconvinced by outreach from their Senate brethren. They acknowledge that a blue slip may be their only recourse to stop a process they believe Democrats will dominate in conference.

Any House member can move to blue-slip a Senate-originated bill that raises revenue, though the protest requires a majority vote to send the legislation back across the Capitol and force immigration negotiators back to square one. “We would certainly have the right [to a blue slip] and could exercise it,” another House GOP aide said.“We’d rather have no bill than a bad bill,” Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), said. The House Immigration Reform Caucus that Bilbray chairs, bitterly opposed to the Senate bill, “will use any and every means necessary to see that the American people get the immigration [reform] they deserve,” Bardella added.

The list of House GOP critics who could race to blue-slip the Senate bill is a long one. Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), both staking presidential bids on opposition to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) all said through press secretaries that they are considering any and all options to counter the Senate bill.“I hope that the House will always defend its constitutional rights, and I would defer to House leadership to decide when that occurs,” Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas), ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said through a spokeswoman.

All right, quit jockeying for who is going to do it, and do it already. Do not overplay this move. Just lay the card down, and end it all right now instead of allowing the blowhard know-nothings in the Senate to continue wasting precious time and money.

Who do we have to thank for this glaring oversight on the Senate's part? Well it appears that Captain Ed Morrissey is raising his hand:

How is this my fault? During a blogger conference call with Senator John McCain, one of the bill's architects, I mentioned a Boston Globe story that reported the removal of a requirement to pay back taxes before entering either the Z-visa or Y-visa program. The White House reportedly requested that section be removed, and I asked the Senator why illegal immigrants would get a pass on paying back taxes when American citizens don't get that privilege.

McCain was surprised by this question; he hadn't heard about the removal of the requirement. According to The Hill, McCain went back and reinstated the provision after my question:

The back-taxes provision that could trigger the blue slip came from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who continues to take heavy fire on the presidential hustings for supporting the immigration deal. McCain introduced a back-taxes amendment after a conference call in which Republican bloggers mentioned reports that the Bush administration had asked that this year’s bill not force the very costly process of tax collection among illegal immigrants.

“I’d not heard that proposal on the part of the president,” McCain said, according to a transcript of the call. “I would resist that.”

I do not think that Captain Ed can take all the blame for this one. Senator McCain did, after all, put the provision back in after being informed of it's removal. No one twisted his arm on the measure. He did it on his own. All that Captain Ed and the other bloggers did was bring it to his attention. Mr. Narcissistic is the one who acted. And I am sure he will also be the one throwing the hissy fit when the blue slip is delivered to the Senate. Hopefully that arrives soon to save us from this disaster. It would seem with McCain's move that he apparently understsands less of the Constitution than the White House doesbecause it seems to me that this is why the White House tried to remove that piece of this legislation.

Up until now, those in the House have been focusing on a way to kill it via vote or filibuster. Up until now that is the only avenues they have been handed. Once the back taxes provision was put in place, the game was afoot. Nothing the Senate can do, sans removing the feature from the bill, can stop this blue slip manuever. Way to go, Senator McCain. You've just undone the bill you helped create. And thank you Captain Ed, and your team of bloggers on that call, for giving him the means to shoot himself in the foot.


ADDENDUM: Folks, forgive my overzealous and giddy wife for this report. What she doesn't state, and should have been revealed, is that for the blue slip to work, the House needs to be able to enforce it. That means a majority has to back it up. Can that happen? Will it happen?

Given how controversial this draft is (over 70% of voters polled DO NOT support this bill based on the analysis from legal, economic, and security experts) there is a high probability that the House can unite under a solid, security-first coalition. Yes, Marcie is quite correct, as is Captain Ed -- the Senate can't pass a bill that raises" revenue" FIRST. Article I, Section 7 is explicit:

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

Because this provisions regarding tax amnesty will technically "raise revenues," the Senate can't put this forward. The amendment itself must begin in the House. This isn't a pork-barrel amendment, which either House can propose. This is specifically calling for extra revenues to be paid to the government, i.e. raising revenues. This is solely a power of the House of Representatives.

The Founders understood that the House was comprised of the population of districts. The representative in question literally spoke on behalf of a group of citizens. The Founders believed the House to be, for lack of a better term, the "people's House," and only the citizenry should approve of a raise in federal revenues. They were closer to the pulse of the nation than those int he Senate because of how it is comprised, and the powers it possesses.

Can the House unite? That is a distinct possibility. WILL it unite? That remains to be seen. But given the high cry of foul that has risen from the citizenry, the possibility is high that they could. If they do, the draft is dead, and the Senate goes back to square one. If not, then it speaks volumes as to whether the House can unite and defeat the bill. We can hope that they can either stop it before they get it, or kill it when it's handed over to them.

So don't pop the cork on the bubbly just yet. We're still a ways off from killing this boondoggle.

Publius II

UPDATE: Just finished talking with Hugh Hewitt about this. First, he hasn't read the Hill report, but he has read Captain Ed's entry ont his subject. He says he doesn't hink it matters. The blue slip idea will fail, and the House will remove the amendment, and send it back to the Senate. In that effect, the Senate will have to start over again, and no difference will be made. The House, he feels, will end up passing the thing regardless if it makes it out of the Senate. As things stand right now, it's a good guess that it's going to pass the Senate.

So, as this is Constituency Week, as expressed by Carol Platt Liebeau yesterday filling in for Hugh, WE -- Marcie and I, and every other concerned citizen regarding this issue -- urge you to call both the Senate AND the House, and urge them to kill this draft.

This bill can't be allowed to come to being a law. It spells tragedy for this nation. Don't hang your hopes on this possibility. Get active, and make Congress hear your concerns.

Publius II


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