Thursday, May 25, 2006

House GOP Gives Rove an Earful on Immigration

As I noted yesterday, Karl Rove came to Capitol Hill yesterday largely to talk about immigration. Dennis Hastert's announcement of House Republican self-immolation to protect Bill Jefferson drowned out any reporting on the substance of the immigration debate, however.

The Hill clues us in to how it went. The short answer? Not much new to report. There is still a strong and vocal number of House Republicans willing to complain to the White House about an amnesty.

I'm not willing to bet whether Congress will pass a border security and amnesty bill before the elections, but this might wind up much like the DHS legislation in 2002. At that time, lawmakers could not agree prior to the election whether to extend labor protections to employees of the new DHS, and so the issue went unresolved before election day. When Democrats suffered surprising losses, they returned in the lame-duck session and passed the bill the President had wanted.

If no agreement is reached prior to the election, an immigration bill may be completed in December, in a lame-duck session. The substance of the bill could reflect the conventional wisdom established on election day. For example, if House Republicans suffer losses while Senate Republicans maintain their numbers, it might be seen as a defeat for a hard-line stance, and the immigration bill could contain an amnesty (or a more generous amnesty). If Democrats retake the House, then there might not be any bill, because an incoming Democratic majority might insist upon re-writing the bill to its own liking. Other outcomes are obviously possible as well.

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