Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ignoring The Constitution May Doom Immigration Deal

The Senate should know better, especially after last year.

The U.S. Constitution’s “Origination Clause” (Article 1, Section 7) requires that revenue-related bills to originate in the House; therefore, some argued that the back-taxes provision in the Senate's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 was unconstitutional.

The Senate's current immigration deal requires that illegal aliens to pay back taxes before becoming citizens, thereby reopening the door for any member of the House to block the proposed Senate immigration deal by issuing a blue-slip, the color of the paper used for the resolution which formally declares that there has been a violation of the "Origination Clause." The bill would then be returned to the Senate for the appropriate constitutionally permissible reforms.

According to the Hill, several House members are "lying in wait for the Senate to 'make the same mistake twice.'”

“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.

Last year, then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, tried to resolve the constitutional procedural issue in the usual way, proposing to attach the immigration bill to a tax bill that had already passed the House. It would then proceed to a "conference committee," where negotiators from the House and Senate hammer out differences between the two chambers' immigration bills. But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid refused to go along with that fix. I presume that was because the Democrats decided they could gain a partisan political advantage if there was no immigration reform before the midterm elections.

Just like last year, the Senate's immigration deal may be doomed to never make it to a conference committee. Under House rules, any member can introduce a "blue-slip resolution" to return the legislation to the Senate, potentially killing the so-called "immigration reform" effort. Why would the Democratic lead Senate make the same mistake twice? Do the Democrats want to scuttle this year's immigration reform as Reid and company did last year?

1 comment:

IC said...

The acrimony in Washington is palpable. The fights on individual bills is killing our evolution as a country. I actually wrote a bit on it today.