Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is Pelosi Trying to Kill the Immigration Bill

This is probably an effort -- at least in part -- to encourage Republicans who want an immigration bill (including the president, obviously) to step up efforts to line up supporters in the House GOP. If however, Ms. Pelosi and Ms. Lofgren really do not intend to advance a bill until September, there's a good chance it will be too late to get anything done:

House Democratic leaders began a series of immigration “listening” sessions Wednesday, but they may not have a bill ready before September — a timetable some backers say could kill the effort...

Lofgren, D-Calif., has yet to unveil a draft bill, House leaders are holding “listening” sessions this week and next with rank-and-file lawmakers rather than committee markups, and Pelosi has set a high bar for House consideration, including evidence of up to 70 Republican votes.

All of that raises doubts both within and outside Pelosi’s caucus about the feasibility of a July timeline for House action...

“If it hasn’t passed both houses by the end of July, it is toast,” predicted Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who wrote an immigration bill with Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill.

Democrats insist that Pelosi wants to pass an immigration bill, but Republicans survey the same landscape and see plenty of reasons why the California Democrat might hope it gets buried.

“If Pelosi takes up the Senate bill and moves it further to the left, it will convert our biggest potential liability into a motivating force for our base,” said Florida Rep. Adam H. Putnam, the Republican Conference chairman.

Democratic divisions have, to this point, been obscured by Republican infighting. But when the House considers an immigration bill, the majority of House Democrats are likely to be at odds with swing-district colleagues, particularly freshmen whose 2006 electoral victories gave Democrats their first House majority in a dozen years...

Some Democrats say that after years of debating immigration, the listening sessions are unlikely to yield many new votes.

“We don’t need no stinkin’ listening sessions,” said one veteran lawmaker, paraphrasing from the film “Blazing Saddles.”

Democratic leaders remain reluctant to discuss their plans for an immigration bill.

“Let’s see what the Senate does and then we’ll decide what we’re going to do,” Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., said.

Read the whole piece; it's a very good summary of where the debate stands. I also can't help but laugh at the comment that 'the listening sessions are unlikely to yield many new votes.' Gee, ya think? It sure seemed to me that people were falling in love with this bill the more they hear about it.

The House Republicans have their mouths watering to get this debate underway, and they expect that the bill put forward by the Democratic leadership will be to the left of whatever passes the Senate. They feel there's no way they can lose politically. And with moderate Democrats from swing districts downright scared of the isue, you can see why.

Pay attention to what Rahm Emanuel says; he's probably the most politically astute of the House Democrats. In his move from chair of the DCCC to caucus chair, he essentially oversaw the gaining of the House majority, and has now been entrusted with keeping it. If he sounds dubious about going forward, it's because he knows it will be politically costly.

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