Thursday, June 27, 2013

68-32 and Autopsy (A Certain Immigration Update)

 A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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Passing the Senate 68-32, S. 744 got 14 Republicans, 52 Democrats, and 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats.  No Democrat---whether he or she ran against amnesty or in favor of border-security first or to defend the working class---voted against the measure.  After the passage of Corker-Hoeven, this bill also got precisely zero votes on further amendments to the bill.

The Gang of Eight controlled this immigration bill from beginning to end.  The Senate judiciary committee was stacked with Gang allies, and Corker-Hoeven was written in conjunction with the Gang.  The Gang did a very good job of politically maneuvering this bill.  The CBO report last week caused some real turbulence for S. 744, but Corker-Hoeven's promises of border enforcement and many giveaways helped push the bill over the top.

Of course, recent reports have made clear that the White House held ultimate veto authority over much of this bill.  Thanks to the work of the Gang, the White House has gotten what it wanted in this bill.  There's a reason why Democrats in the Senate supported it uniformly.  The president and his allies have so far been able to convince various left-leaning groups to ignore their misgivings about income inequality, worker exploitation, and border security in order to give the administration a big domestic win.  As they did with Obamacare, Senate Democrats have walked the line for the president.

Many Republicans, centrists, and pro-worker Democrats seem to hope that the House will stop this bill.  Speaker Boehner's statement that he will only support an immigration conference bill if it has a majority of Republicans backing it might increase those hopes.  But, if you read between the lines of this thorough Jonathan Strong piece on House immigration politics, you might see that some GOP members still have an appetite for passing some bill, even a fairly "comprehensive" one.  Paul Ryan seems to be taking on more and more of a role supporting a bill that has a combination of legalization, guest-worker programs, border security, and changes to the legal immigration system.  Despite the rhetoric that the Senate immigration bill is DOA in the House, S. 744's basic structure might still have some legislative life in it.

Speaking of rhetoric...

Rubio offers a final statement supporting his immigration bill---but didn't really get into the specifics of this bill, instead talking about his family history and the glory of America.  (John McCormack writes, "Rubio's passionate, eloquent support for bill containing path to citizenship almost as passionate, eloquent as past opposition to such bills.")

Schumer ended in a similar vein:  "Immigrants have been an essential component to our American success story. To reject this basic truth in this vote today would be a direct rebuke to the lady who shines so brightly in New York's harbor."  So the senator from New York seems to be saying that to vote against S. 744 (which could very easily harm the wages of recent immigrants) is to reject the value of immigrants in American society and the Statue of Liberty.  Schumer's not exactly leaving room open for respectful disagreement.  Is he accusing skeptics of this bill of being anti-American?

T. A. Frank has not been co-opted by the Obama administration.  Writing in The New Republic, Frank argues that those on the left should be concerned about this bill's effects on low-wage workers:
If I have a plea to my fellow liberals more broadly, it’s that they focus more of their empathy on fellow Americans being left behind. Because we increasingly live in bubbles, many of us are at best only abstractly aware of how cruelly circumstances of unskilled Americans have deteriorated over the past few decades.  Even as these Americans have lost their well-paid manufacturing jobs, Washington has looked the other way while millions of low-skilled unauthorized immigrants have competed with them for low-skilled service jobs. The insouciance of privileged Americans toward the effects of this on life among less-privileged Americans is, in my view, a betrayal of citizenship.
If we are to have any hope of regaining any control over our own immigration policy—which is to say, our destiny as a nation—then we must ensure that everyone has an incentive to follow the laws on who gets to be here and who does not.  Otherwise, we will shred the few remaining safety nets we have, and the dream of dignity for all American citizens will slip farther and farther, perhaps permanently, out of reach.  No matter how magnificently Chuck Schumer claims the contrary.
(Programming note: I still plan on following the immigration bill debates in Congress.  If/when the time seems appropriate, new updates will be sent out, but I can't guarantee a daily mailing.  So keep an eye on your inboxes, and thanks for reading!)

(Link to this issue here.)     

Votes Ahead? (A Certain Immigration Update)

 A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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Politico reports that negotiations over inserting amendments may be breaking down, putting the Gang further away from its goal of 70 votes:
Potential swing GOP votes began to peel away from the reform effort Wednesday. A source familiar with the discussions told POLITICO that the negotiators are no longer trying to woo Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) because they see his demands on agricultural workers as an insurmountable hurdle. Two other Republicans, who had backed a so-called border surge plan, then turned around to reject a procedural move to advance the bill...
Barring a breakthrough agreement on amendments, the Senate is set to vote on two procedural votes on Thursday. Final passage would come Friday, although senators — ready to speed back to their home states for the July 4 recess — could agree to move up the vote.

Andrew Stiles at NRO has many more details about the battle over amendments: "Further votes on amendments to the Gang of Eight immigration bill may be unlikely, as lawmakers have been unable to reach an agreement on which amendments, and how many, to allow a vote on."

On Wednesday, the only vote we got was a 67-31 cloture vote to advance the main bill.

Rubio offers a defense of his immigration bill.  He reiterates the concerns of those who criticize the Obama administration's record.  He specifically denies that future Congresses cannot change the funding of the bill...Meanwhile, Sarah Palin calls for primaries for Ayotte and Rubio....Speaking of elections, Sean Trende argues that the GOP does not need to pass immigration "reform" in order to remain viable....

National Journal poll: "Overall, 77 percent of respondents opposed making government benefits available to legalized (but noncitizen) immigrants."

In an interesting post, Bill Kristol comes out hard against "comprehensive immigration reform":
So if Republicans want to win House and Senate seats in 2014, John Boehner should kill the Senate bill—first refusing to take it up in the House, and also by making clear the House will refuse to go to conference with it. The House can still pass specific bills to address particular immigration issues this session (which presumably the Senate won't take up—but let Harry Reid explain his refusal to do so). But the key is for Boehner to kill "comprehensive" immigration "reform" in this session of Congress.

Boehner might have a tightrope walk ahead of him on immigration reform, especially with rising anger about the Senate bill.

Ryan and Boehner now seem to be suggesting that Gang of 8 bill will not be voted on in the House---but hope for the House's own legislation (which could be melded with Gang of 8 bill in conference).  Ryan seems to be taking on a leading role in the House immigration debate and seems to be supporting a plan that has some component of legalization, guest-worker programs, and further enforcement.  See his interview here with Hannity for further details about what Ryan is thinking about (Hannity seems skeptical).

On Thursday, a House committee will mark up a tech-related immigration measure.

(Link to this issue here.)    

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Facts Go Forward---Maybe (A Certain Immigration Update)

A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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John McCormack suggests that many senators might need to think about the implications of S. 744 a bit more:
Obamacare poses a tricky problem for supporters of the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill. It would be too politically toxic to give illegal immigrants amnesty and taxpayer subsidies under Obamacare, so the Senate bill prohibits "registered provisional immigrants" (individuals who are now residing illegally in the United States granted legal status under the bill) from receiving Obamacare subsidies. But in so doing the Senate's immigration bill would create a big financial incentive for some employers to hire non-citizens granted legal status over American citizens.
As the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein recently reported: "Under Obamacare, businesses with over 50 workers that employ American citizens without offering them qualifying health insurance could be subject to fines of up to $3,000 per worker. But because newly legalized immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges until after they become citizens – at least 13 years under the Senate bill – businesses could avoid such fines by hiring the new immigrants instead."
On Tuesday afternoon, THE WEEKLY STANDARD asked five different U.S. Senators about this problem. These five senators, all Democrats, voted to cut off debate Monday night on the revised immigration bill, but none of them knew if the bill would create a financial incentive for some employers to hire amnestied immigrants instead of American citizens.
More thoughts along those lines here.

Rubio and McCain are boasting about how happy they are with the security provisions of this bill.

Rand Paul explains why he's against S. 744:
Of paramount concern is what to do with the 12 million people currently residing in the United States who are in legal limbo. No one is seriously contemplating they leave, but conservatives believe that normalizing their status should only follow serious efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. And I’m sorry to say that the Gang of Eight’s proposal is just not serious.

Orrin Hatch explains why he's in favor of it:
This legislation significantly strengthens border security. An amendment by my colleagues Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., means that an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents will be stationed along the southern border, more than doubling the current force.
It also requires that an additional 700 miles of fencing be built and that E-verify — an Internet-based system that ensures that employers hire only legal workers — be used by all businesses in the country, making it virtually impossible to work in the United States illegally.
Some have said this bill grants amnesty, but that’s just not true. We have de facto amnesty right now, and this bill fixes that. The fact is that in order to be put on a pathway to citizenship, immigrants currently here illegally would be required to pay a fine, pass criminal and national security background checks and pay taxes. 
Was there a "de facto amnesty" in 1986 or 2007, when Hatch voted against "reform"? 

Erick Erickson reminds us what various senators said about illegal immigration and "amnesty" while they were on the campaign trial.  Byron York also looks at Rubio's past statements.

No votes in the Senate on immigration on Tuesday, but Roll Call provides a handy schedule for the votes ahead:
  • A vote to adopt the omnibus amendment that includes the “border surge” from GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota could happen as early as 1 a.m. Wednesday. [FB update: Did not happen.]
  • Right after that, the Senate would vote on a procedural motion to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on the amendment reported by the Judiciary Committee, with all the other changes added on the floor.
  • The actual vote to adopt that substitute amendment would come due 30 hours thereafter, probably sometime before 8 a.m. Thursday.
  • That would be followed by a vote on the cloture motion to bring to a close debate on the whole thing, with another 30 hours to wait before the vote on final passage.
  • So, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., finds that Republicans want him to grind through everything, the bill could still be done Friday afternoon, allowing him to meet his goal of getting out of town for the July Fourth recess with the immigration bill passed.
Mitch McConnell is hopeful that something can be worked out on immigration---in a House-Senate conference bill.

A National Journal poll suggests that those Republicans who vote for this bill might find themselves in some electoral hot water with voters back home:
A sizable plurality of registered GOP voters say they will be less likely to support their incumbent lawmaker if he or she votes for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for those currently living illegally in the United States, according to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. The findings show that even as national Republican leaders tout the Senate's reform measure as a political necessity for the party, it remains a risky vote for individual GOP lawmakers wary of a primary challenger.
This could also affect some Democrats in Republican-leaning states.  (Perhaps that possibility of a backlash influenced Arizona governor Jan Brewer's clarification that she does not support S. 744 after all.)

(Link to this issue here.)     

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Over the Hurdle (A Certain Immigration Update)

daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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Cloture passed on Corker-Hoeven 67-27.  The vote list is as follows:
YEAs ---67
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Chiesa (R-NJ)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Corker (R-TN)
Cowan (D-MA)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Flake (R-AZ)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Graham (R-SC)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs ---27
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Fischer (R-NE)
Grassley (R-IA)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Not Voting - 6
Brown (D-OH)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Enzi (R-WY)
Isakson (R-GA)
Lee (R-UT)
Udall (D-CO)

No Democrat voted against cloture.  Interesting pro-cloture votes: Alexander and Wicker.  Interesting anti-cloture: Portman and Toomey.  Chambliss and Isakson say that they would have voted against cloture.

This is not the last cloture vote the legislation needs to survive, as Roll Call explains:
If all debate time is used, the next cloture vote is likely to take place Wednesday on the Judiciary Committee’s version of the bill (as amended on the floor). The third and final vote on limiting debate could come 30 hours after that, with passage following another 30 hours after that.
Corker told reporters Monday evening that work was ongoing on an agreement that could permit up to 10 amendments from each side. Such an agreement could cut down on the number of hours that need to run before work’s finished, meeting Reid’s Fourth of July recess deadline.
 It still is unclear why July 4 is a deadline for this bill.  (Or is it so unclear? Reid Wilson explains how backers of the Gang of Eight might find themselves a bit worried about popular energies mobilizing against this bill.  Perhaps the fact that Ted Cruz's anti-S. 744 petition already has 100,000 signatures concerns them.)

 OTHER NEWS: Some GOP senators are unhappy with the amendment process....both Hatch and Corker admit that future Congresses could kill the enforcement promises of Corker-Hoeven....CBO: We guess Corker-Hoeven lowers illegal immigration somewhat....the ICE union does not support Corker-Hoeven....some of Rubio's old supporters wonder at his current stance on illegal immigration...Rubio's poll numbers are slipping....

IT'S THE RESPECT: On Monday, Mickey Kaus had a passionately written piece on the significance of valuing labor: "If we lose that idea–if we’re so high-powered and skills-oriented and productive that we don’t have time to respect or acknowledge basic lunchbucket Americans–they’ll have to rewrite about half the country songs ever written. And we’ll have lost what was close to a defining trait of our country (as well as the normative basis for replacing welfare with work). Socially and morally, this is the crux of the immigration debate. It’s not about money but respect."

I have some of my own thoughts about respect scheduled to appear in National Review today: "One of the things that most ails both our country and the future of classical conservatism is the crisis of opportunity. The immigration bill now being pushed through the Senate does little to solve, and possibly does much to worsen, that problem."  Read the rest at NRO (can't say for sure when it will go live).

ELSEWHERE IN PUNDIT LAND: Andrew C. McCarthy: "It is astounding that any lawmaker could vote for this beast and still call himself a conservative supporter of limited government."....Mark Levin: turn up the fear....Fawn Johnson: Maybe the August recess will kill this bill after all....

BEYOND THE HILL: Later today, the White House will hold a meeting with Congressional leaders on immigration.

(Link to this issue here.)    

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Rush Is On (A Certain Immigration Update)

A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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It's Monday.  At 5:30 pm, it will be time to vote for cloture on 1200-page immigration bill amendment that was just introduced on Friday afternoon.  The main event of today is the cloture vote, and the main immigration-policy event of this weekend was reading those 1200 pages to see what was changed or added.  (Tom Jones has a helpful version showing text changes here.)

Here's a partial round-up of these findings on Corker-Hoeven.

  • 1. It’s so darn expensive
  • 2. It’s Congressional micromanagement on steroids
  • 3. The trigger isn’t as powerful as it seems at first blush
  • 4. System to track foreigners will have big gaps
  • 5. Tens of billions for the border, but little further away (PS: Even Corker admits severe limits to internal enforcement)   
--The Schumer-Corker-Hoeven amendment doesn’t change the bill’s amnesty first framework.  Instead it goes even further and creates an automatic amnesty for future illegal aliens.  Section 2302 says if you overstay your visa in the future you can still apply for a green card and become a citizen.  It is permanent lawlessness.  Joined with existing language that restricts future enforcement, it guarantees unending illegal immigration.
--Contrary to their rhetoric there is no border surge.  The Secretary doesn’t even have to start hiring new border patrol agents until 2017, and the amendment only gives her until 2021 to increase the number by 20,000.  According to the National Association of Former Border Patrol Agents, this hiring process could take up to 20 years.  Much like the 2006 law requiring a 700-mile border fence, it’s never going to be happen.
--To raise money, the amendment increases fees on visas for legal immigrants, but keeps the same low fees and fines for those applying for amnesty – favoring illegal over legal immigrants.  Under the 2007 comprehensive immigration bill, amnesty applicants had to pay up to $8,000 – vastly more than the fines in the current plan which total only $2,000 and are subject to numerous waivers.  The Gang has repeatedly claimed their bill is completely paid for by fees.  However, under the Schumer-Corker-Hoeven amendment, the American taxpayers are on the hook for $38 billion.
Bill Jacobson: Yes, DHS can still waive a lot of the requirements.

Byron York surveys some of the details of this new bill...and a new jobs plan in it...

Mickey Kaus reminds folks that these enforcement promises could easily be broken:
Nothing this Congress does, remember, can prevent future Congresses from reneging on the back end of this “legalize first” deal. Budget considerations alone will mean the advertised ”surge” won’t be sustained–as Obama’s earlier 1,500 man National Guard surge wasn’t sustained.  Future lawmakers will be looking around for “offsetting” spending cuts and that bloated 40,000 man border patrol will stick out like a nail that wants to be hammered. Plus, once
Democrats have eaten their meal illegal immigrants have their legalization in hand, Democrats will lose 80% of their motivation to make good on the law’s elaborate promises. They’re already unhappy with the back end of the deal–Sen. Leahy calls it “a Christmas wish list for Halliburton.”  Meanwhile, militarizing the border is drawing immediate protests. Business interests–especially farmers–can be expected to oppose the requirement that they use a computerized system to check new hires. There will be little to stop these forces–the ones that have blocked enforcement until now–except some Republican pols saying “But … but you pwomised!”
Kaus also notes some loopholes for the fencing, E-Verify, the border patrol, and more...

The Hill: "A Senate Republican amendment to the immigration bill that calls for tougher border security includes language that could allow millions of immigrants to apply for a green card without most of the new enforcement measures in place."

Who might benefit from this new amendment?  The media have noted numerous set-asides inserted into this bill.

For Alaska's Murkowski (R) and Begich (D), as Byron York reports:
The Hoeven-Corker amendment says the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research must “devise a methodology…to designate shortage occupations in zone 1 occupations, zone 2 occupations, and zone 3 occupations.” And then it adds, pretty much out of nowhere: “Such methodology must designate Alaskan seafood processing in zones 1, 2, and 3 as shortage occupations.” The next paragraph reiterates: “Alaskan seafood processing in zones 1, 2, and 3 must be designated as shortage occupations.” No other state receives such special treatment. Just Alaska, in what appears to be a favor to a powerful fisheries industry looking for low-cost labor. Why did Alaska merit such special consideration? The bill doesn’t say. But Sen. Murkowski has been an early non-Gang supporter of the immigration reform effort, and Sen. Begich is an endangered Democrat up for re-election in 2014 who needs to show Alaska voters that he is delivering for them.
For Nevada's Reid (D) and Heller (R), some help in the tourism industry is included (as Breitbart reports below):

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) have inserted a provision that amounts to little more than a handout to Las Vegas casinos into the repackaged immigration reform bill, Breitbart News has learned. This provision, a brazen example of crony capitalism, was inserted into the immigration law enforcement section of the bill despite the fact that it has nothing whatsoever to do with "immigration" or "law enforcement."

On page 66 of the repackaged bill, the following provision appears:
“CORPORATION FOR TRAVEL PROMOTION.—Sec- 9(d)(2)(B) of the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (22 U.S.C. 2131(d)(2)(B)) is amended by striking ‘‘For each of fiscal years 2012 through 2015,’’ and inserting ‘‘For each fiscal year after 2012.”
The Travel Promotion Act (TPA) of 2009 allows the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury to spend up to $100 million on promoting travel to specific areas of the country. If the provision Reid and Heller inserted into the proposed immigration reform legislation becomes law, the benefits of the TPA would be extended indefinitely.

Pundits react: Jay Cost: "Increasingly, it looks as though the Corker-Hoeven amendment is a Christmas tree of goodies meant to secure wavering lawmakers"...Bill Kristol is not impressed....neither is Brit Hume...Yuval Levin: "Is this any way to make such an important set of decisions about the country’s future?"....Good round-up of the Sunday shows' clash of the senators on immigration at Hot Air...

Sarah Palin isn't exactly fond of the immigration bill:
But a key part of American exceptionalism is the rule of law. Border security is fundamental to the rule of law, as is incentivizing those who follow the legal path to citizenship instead of punishing them by promoting lawbreakers. This is non-negotiable.  It’s time our lawmakers remember that we are a sovereign nation of laws. This bill ignores that, and ignores the will of the people. The continued porous border goes against what politicians assured us was in this mountain-high bill, and in typical D.C. style it flies in the face of what many politicians campaigned on. I heard their campaign promises. You heard them, too.
It’s time for concerned Americans to flood our legislators’ phone lines with the input they need to hear from We the People. Join the mama grizzlies who are rearing up tirelessly to swat away false claims that amnesty is a good thing. Michelle Malkin rightly said the issue is not secure the border first, it’s “secure the border. Period.” Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter have also offered superb warnings on amnesty’s economic impacts to the middle class.
The US Chamber of Commerce is unleashing a new ad on Monday to support the Gang of Eight's bill.  Two ironies:
  • It features a speech made by Sen. Rand Paul, who has denounced S. 744.
  • It encourages voters to call to end "de facto amnesty," even though millions will stay in "de facto amnesty" (as Marco Rubio puts it) even if the bill passes.
In NYT: Yes, the White House played a major role in drafting immigration bill...and potentially some Democrats are still on the fence because of fears about what this bill might mean for average Americans: "Liberals like Mr. Sanders and Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, remain concerned about new visa programs and their effect on American workers and wages. The jobless rate, 7.6 percent, is three percentage points higher than six years ago, and income inequality has widened."  Interesting point in latter NYT story: "most Democrats concede that barring an abrupt shift in the political climate, they will almost certainly fall in line behind their leaders."

(Link to this issue here.)   

Friday, June 21, 2013

Corker-Hoeven Launches

A brand new draft of the immigration bill is coming out.  The cloture vote on this new draft will take place on Monday.  Tom Jones has some pieces of the Corker-Hoeven amendment here.

The President's Amendment

Interesting detail from this Politico story shows how closely President Obama was involved in Corker-Hoeven negotiations:
But at the height of the talks [about the amendment on] Tuesday, the president weighed in with Schumer from Air Force One while traveling through Europe.

Over a shaky line — they had to be reconnected twice — Obama told Schumer that the 90 percent trigger was unacceptable. Schumer said they were trying to find a different benchmark, and Obama told him to keep working toward an agreement.

Riding to the Rescue (A Certain Immigration Update)

A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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The big news of Thursday seems to be the Corker-Hoeven amendment.  This amendment was announced late Wednesday night and dominated much of the headlines on Thursday.  (Mickey Kaus provides an evolving analysis of this amendment here.)

A big challenge in talking about Corker-Hoeven is that the legislative text is still being drafted.  We have no clue what enforcement provisions will be watered down and what loopholes will be inserted.  For example, on Wednesday night, amendment sponsors were saying that the amendment had a "hard trigger" to ensure some level of enforcement effectiveness before newly legalized immigrants could proceed on the "path to citizenship."  By Thursday afternoon, that trigger was gone.  One thing that won't change for the amendment: legalization will always come before any enforcement targets.

Some might wonder whether the findings of the CBO report that S. 744 will not cause a huge reduction in illegal immigration started a panic among the Gang.  That report yanked away what cover Republicans and Democrats who ran on enforcement had to support the bill.  This new amendment could be used by S. 744 supporters to argue that the CBO calculation was outdated.  (However, CBO suggested that S. 744's colossal new guest-worker programs could be a source for future illegal immigration, as workers overstayed their visas.  Does even a quintupling of border patrol agents combat that risk?  Will Corker-Hoeven?) The Gang rushed to get this amendment in the public debate even before its legislative language was finalized.  Was that rush partially caused by panic?  (PS: Consider what Sen. Corker had to say about "amnesty" back in 2007...)

John Hinderaker posts an interesting claim he got from a trusted source a copule weeks ago:
It’s a trap. They are going to Toomey-Manchin this thing: Announce a big compromise right before the vote, give no one any time to read it, and scare GOP moderates into voting for it.
Is that happening now?  Hinderaker thinks it is.  Is this another case of having to pass the bill so that we can find out what's in it?
REACTIONS: Senator Schumer sounds very happy about the amendment, and some Republicans seem convinced by press reports about it, but others aren't so swayed...FAIR: "The Corker-Hoeven amendment simply puts some very expensive lipstick on a pig. S.744 will deliver amnesty to the people who broke our laws, it will deliver huge increases in foreign labor for business interests, but it will do nothing to protect the interests and security of the American people."....Senator Cornyn is shocked and amazed....Ace remains very unimpressed...Peter Kirsanow: "Regardless of where you stand on immigration reform, the endless and multiplying efforts of our elected representatives to hoodwink the American people should infuriate you".....Mark Krikorian: "The Corker-Hoeven amendment is a sham, pure simple. Anyone who votes for it is announcing that he thinks the American people are gullible fools."

GETTING TOWARD CLOTURE: Ted Cruz has started to fight strongly against S. 744, sponsoring a petition against it....Orrin Hatch still hopes to support S. 744...An interesting whip list for votes on S. 744 is here...

THE WORKING CLASS: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is assumed by some to be a guaranteed "yes" for S. 744.  Yet Sanders has a long-standing opposition to guest-worker programs.  As he said the other day, "I do not support a huge expansion in the guest worker program that will allow hundreds of thousands of entry-level guest workers to come into this country."  Well, that's exactly what S. 744 does, and so far no amendments have been passed stripping the guest-worker provisions from the bill.  I've been told by a source that Sanders is still waiting to see how the final bill looks before deciding whether to support it or not.  Will Senator Sanders stand up for his principles in the days ahead and really fight to get rid of the guest-worker program?  Will he support a bill that has such a plan in it?  (PS: Sessions argued on Thursday that S. 744 will "accelerate the decline" of the working class.)

ON THE FLOOR: One vote on Thursday: Cornyn's RESULTS amendment was tabled 54-43.  Pryor and Manchin were only Democrats in favor of this amendment.  Rubio split from the Gang of Eight to support it; perhaps he got a pass from Schumer on this amendment, Andrew Stiles suggests.

FOR FRIDAY: Look for the text of Corker-Hoeven.  Some more thoughts from  Sessions's office on Reid's possible strategy in the days ahead:
“Reid could systematically table all the remaining amendments that are pending, holding votes to table one at a time,” background provided by Sen. Sessions’ staff reads. “Then he could call up Corker-Hoeven. After debating the amendment, he could file cloture on it to end debate.  He could also block debate and immediately file cloture. Then, a vote would be taken on the amendment. After Corker-Hoeven passed, Reid could ‘fill the tree,’ which is a power he has to block consideration of any amendments (and one he’s used far more than his predecessor, Bill Frist). Reid could then file cloture on S. 744 as amended by Corker-Hoeven. Then, a vote on final passage would occur.  So the bill, in its current form with the exception of the addition of Corker-Hoeven, could be passed (if it had the votes) without any further opportunity given to senators to alter/improve it—by early next week, even."
Time will tell!

(Link to this issue here.)  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Bob Corker Had to Say about Amnesty in 2007

According to the Congressional Record, Senator Corker said on May 23, 2007,
 What I mean by that is this. There is a sense of fairness that we see many times on the floor that is not addressed by the fact that we have about 12 million people in this country today illegally. People see this bill as straight amnesty, where all of a sudden we are going to make it legal that if you have been here working, for however long, you become legal in this country by virtue of being here...
   It is that point, I think, that has divided the American people, the fact that this bill does not address the inequity of allowing those people to remain here. These are people who came here, obviously, to support their families, and we understand what the motivation is for many people to be here, but this bill does not address that inequity.    What I propose tonight and I am working with other Senators to hopefully make happen after we come back from recess, is to actually have a provision in this bill that treats people who are here illegally like those who wish to have a green card, like those who would be temporary workers in this bill. I would ask that other Senators work with me and others to create an amendment to this bill that actually would cause, over a reasonable amount of time, people who are working in this country to return to their home country and then come back through legal channels. I think that strikes at the very core of what so many Americans believe is so inappropriate about having illegal immigrants, illegal workers, automatically made legal.
   I think that is a central fallacy in this bill as it has been offered today. After many of these technical amendments are agreed to over the course of the next few days, and as we come back from recess, I look forward to working with other Senators to try to ensure that if this immigration bill passes, it passes in a way that meets the sense of fairness the American public believes this bill ought to have; that it addresses that inequity of people who jumped in front of the line and came here, being here illegally and yet being able to benefit without, during a reasonable period of time, returning home and coming back through legal channels, once we have the mechanisms in place to allow people to do that. I hope to have the opportunity to work with others in this body to make that happen. 
Senator Corker argued in 2007 that the "central fallacy" of the "comprehensive" bill of 2007 is that it allowed for "straight amnesty, where all of a sudden we are going to make it legal that if you have been here working, for however long, you become legal in this country by virtue of being here."  Doesn't S. 744 do that?  Doesn't Corker-Hoeven preserve the legalization-first approach of the Gang of Eight bill?

(In 2007, Sen. Corker seemed particularly to criticize the fact that the 2007 Senate bill did not require illegal immigrants to return to their native countries "and then come back through legal channels."  S. 744 doesn't require that, either.)

Daniel Horowitz also recalls what Corker had to say about "amnesty" in 2006.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Pundits Turn (A Certain Immigration Update)

A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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The CBO's finding that S. 744 will not radically curtail illegal immigration has shifted the momentum of this debate a little bit.  Critics of the bill are privately saying that this report may have changed the dynamic.

Why might that be the case?  Over at The Daily Caller, I explore how the CBO's report suggests that the bill fails by the standards set for it by the Gang of 8:
At the outset of the Senate debate, the Gang of Eight members laid down their policy marker: this bill would radically reduce, if not outright end, illegal immigration. The CBO has now suggested that this bill would do nothing of the kind. The CBO argues that the legislation would allow millions more illegal immigrants to enter the shadows, paving the way for yet another attempt to fix a “broken immigration system” a decade from now.
CBO projections are far from perfect prognostications, but this report does pose a challenge to the Gang of Eight. If the findings are wrong, why are they wrong? If they are wrong, by how much would S. 744 actually reduce future illegal immigration? If they are right or the Gang of Eight cannot dispute the findings successfully, will those senators who pledged to back the legislation on the grounds that it would end illegal immigration step away from it?
Promises on immigration enforcement have been broken before. The experience of the 1986 amnesty convinced many Americans about the dangers of putting amnesty ahead of enforcement. This CBO report suggests that the Gang of Eight bill, like the 1986 amnesty, might not live up to its proponents’ promises.
This finding might make it harder for those Democrats and Republicans who ran on enforcement of immigration laws to back this bill.

Over at NRO, Yuval Levin raises some significant questions about the bill:
That projection isn’t an argument. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t proceed. Immigration is good for America, but we govern and shape it with laws for a reason: Like all things, it is good up to a point, and it is better in some forms than in others. Have we thought through the volume of immigration that would result from this legislation? Have we thought through its balance of skills? Should we not hear a case for doubling American immigration over the next decade before we go ahead and do it? Has anyone argued for that? To what problem would such a huge increase be a solution? Does anyone have the sense that this is what our immigration debate has been about, or even quite understand that this is what the bill would do?
When the Hart-Celler immigration reform was enacted in 1965, creating today’s immigration system, everyone focused on the shifting of visa categories to finally put an end to racist quotas, and few people predicted that the law would dramatically distort the legal immigration system in the direction of massive chain immigration. It seems to me something similar is going on here—because we are focused on the question of offering legal status to illegal immigrants, we may be missing what this bill will really amount to in practice and what will matter most about it.
In any case, I think yesterday’s CBO reports are very important. The projections they make about economic effects (although they acknowledge they are premised on evidence drawn from much smaller waves of immigration than the one they project) and fiscal effects should help proponents of the law. But the projections they make about illegal immigration should put an end to any notion that this law will address that problem, and the projections they make about overall immigration levels should lead us to think about how much and what sort of immigration would be best for the country.
Ramesh Ponnuru adds: "it looks as though the CBO has actually driven a stake through the heart of the Gang of Eight’s case"

Some GOP aides believe that the window is closing on S. 744:
“The fact is, Senator Rubio is bouncing around trying to find a path out,” a Republican staffer told the Washington Examiner. “The bill is indefensible — and he has all but admitted it by saying ‘it must be improved.’  So he saddled up with Cornyn to try to get cover — but now that doesn’t seem to be working either. Now there are more secret back room-deals being attempted — while Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer stiff-arm Senator Grassley and other Republicans who are trying to modify the bill on the floor.  The American people are just waking up to the reality of another 1000 page amnesty bill — and there is a long way to go in this debate.”
Rubio stayed optimistic about gathering Republican support. “I think you’ll see something, God willing, early next week so people can start to look at it. A bunch of senators have been working on it,” he told Morrissey. “A lot of Republicans want to be supportive of something, but need to be able to go back home and tell people that they have taken serious steps to make sure this never happens again.”
The idea of having to back a substantial change to the bill on such short notice.”How long have they been working on this bill?” another Republican Senate  aide said. “And they are going to surprise everyone with a brand new bill just DAYS before senators vote on it, before anyone can read it, score it, evaluate it?”

HANNITY SWITCHES: Sean Hannity has been a fairly consistent ally of Rubio's plan.  That's changed:
Talk-show host Sean Hannity, who made waves after the election by saying he was open to legalizing illegal immigrants, changed course Wednesday, saying that Sen. Marco Rubio and fellow Republicans who negotiated the Senate legalization bill got duped by Democrats.
Mr. Hannity said that the way the debate is shaping up, Mr. Rubio and his fellow three Republicans who worked on the bipartisan Gang of Eight have delivered a winning political issue to Democrats.
“I do believe that he had the best of intentions when he started working on this issue. But I also told him during interviews early on that I do not trust Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin,” Mr. Hannity said of Mr. Rubio.
“Democrats have a history of not being trustworthy. My prediction seems to have become a reality. Democrats are basically using this as a political issue, not for the sake of solving an important problem but to boost future election chances by making this a wedge issue for 2014,” he said.
Mr. Hannity said Tuesday’s analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed the bill won’t end illegal immigration in the way backers had promised, and would actually add to the costs of the new health-care law, though it would lower overall federal budget deficits.
Is this a sign of more switches to come?  See Hannity's interview with Rubio here: Rubio says he voted against enforcement amendments (Thune, etc.) because they didn't go far enough.  If the Gang has lost Hannity....
Perhaps Reid is getting a bit jumpy: he might move to file cloture on Thursday: 
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that if a significant amendment agreement is reached Thursday, he could file cloture on the immigration reform bill that same day and avoid weekend work by continuing votes next week.“We are going to finish this bill before we leave here for the July 4th recess. I hope we don’t have to work here Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Reid said Wednesday evening. “I’ve said before that I’d file cloture on the bill by Friday, Saturday, Sunday or even Monday. It looks like we might have to move that up a day and I might have to file cloture tomorrow.”

 What exactly the amendments are remains in limbo as of this writing.

This anxiety may partly be motivated by the fact that GOP support for this measure seems to be falling away.  Members of the Gang now seem to be conceding 70 votes as a very difficult goal.  McCain has suggested they might have in the low 60s.

Ted Cruz unleashes on S. 744:
He also denounced the idea that the bill successfully secured the border, but heightened the incentive to come to the United States illegally.
“We all know that the border security ain’t never gonna come, but the legalization happens immediately,” he said. “This Gang of Eight bill — if it passes — would increase illegal immigration.”
Cruz added that he believed that Sen. Harry Reid was nervous about the future of the bill.
“I think he’s starting to get nervous because the American people are waking up to the details of the bill,” he said.
Bernie Sanders is still complaining about guest-workers: "The Vermont independent's proposals include forbidding companies that have announced mass layoffs from hiring foreign guest workers; adding a fee to guest worker hires to fund a jobs program for low-income U.S. teens; and altering a cultural exchange visa program so that it no longer involves work for youths from overseas."  But will he propose any amendment to cut the size of the vast new guest-worker programs of S. 744?  If the senator is really concerned about guest workers, now is the time to act.

Rand Paul's "trust but verify" amendment is defeated (61-37 to kill the amendment)...he seems to have turned against bill...
Mike Lee's enforcement amendment is also defeated 39-59.
Mary Landrieu is upset about some amendment votes.
SPEAKING OF AMENDMENTS: Corker and Hoeven continue to work on some border-security amendment...some possible details here....

 ELSEWHERE....Maybe the Gang of Eight bill will not "settle" the immigration issue for many left-leaning activists....Drucker points out some things to keep an eye on...Heritage: Congress is trying to fool you...NJ poll: voters want fewer guest-workers in high-tech and construction fields....

Laura Ingraham raises questions about the effect of this bill on the working class in a conversation with Paul Ryan:
“The CBO report says that [the Gang of Eight] approach, which would allow in all these people, would drive wages down. How can Paul Ryan, the man behind the growth agenda, say that driving American wages down is a good thing over the next twelve years, for the middle class who is struggling in Wisconsin and beyond?”
 See here for Ryan's response.

(Link to this issue here.) 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CBO Taketh Away (A Certain Immigration Update)

A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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The key number from the much-blogged CBO report on S. 744 is not $197 billion or $700 billion but 25%: that's how effective the CBO predicts the Gang of Eight bill will be in blocking future illegal immigration:

However, other aspects of the bill would probably increase the number of unauthorized residents—in particular, people overstaying their visas issued under the new programs for temporary workers. CBO estimates that, under the bill, the net annual flow of unauthorized residents would decrease by about 25 percent relative to what would occur under current law...
So the guest-worker programs could, as some have suggested, increase the number of potential illegal immigrants.

And I thought Senator Schumer said that the Gang of Eight bill would end illegal immigration!  This finding complicates the efforts of the Gang of Eight to use this report as a political document.  If this CBO estimate is true, it utterly vitiates the central premise of the Gang of Eight: that this trade of legalization for enforcement is acceptable because it really will be the last one.  The "deal" of S.744 is that it solves the problem of illegal immigration.  CBO says it won't.  That seems kind of important.  (Meanwhile, Texas is experiencing a surge of illegal border crossings.)
Many sympathetic to S. 744 are trumpeting CBO's projection of savings over the short term, but this report has some other economic/budgetary findings, too.

CBO thinks that legalized individuals will gain access to some federal benefits prior to receiving citizenship: "If S. 744 was enacted, executive branch agencies would probably face pressure from states and other stakeholders to provide people who are lawfully present in the United States with the federal benefits that are available to qualified aliens, including assistance provided through Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, student loans, and Pell grants."

The CBO's 10/20-year window allows it to miss the effects on Social Security/Medicare spending.  But there is a tantalizing hint: in 2014-2023, it estimates that SS/Medicare spending will go up $4 bill because of S. 744---by 2024-2033, it will have increased this spending by $70 billion.

What also has not gotten much press so far is another report the CBO put out on the economic effects of S. 744.  There, the news is slightly more pessimistic over the next ten years.  Some key tidbits: "Relative to what would occur under current law, S. 744 would lower per capita GNP by 0.7 percent in 2023" and "CBO’s central estimates also show that average wages for the entire labor force would be 0.1 percent lower in 2023."  CBO estimates that those at the bottom of the economic ladder would see the greatest wage pressure over the next ten years.  CBO estimates that, 20 years from now, S. 744 will make the average American wealthier, but that's a pretty long economic forecast.

There are reasons to be skeptical about the validity of CBO projections.  As Hot Air's AllahPundit wrote, "CBO scores may be near-worthless as predictive devices, but as political capital they’re very valuable. Remember how excited Democrats were when CBO initially scored ObamaCare as reducing the deficit by $140 billion between 2013 and 2019? A year later, CBO adjusted that downward to $95 billion. A year after that, they adjusted it downward again to … $4 billion."

The timeline on the Senate bill is getting crunched.  Reid may file for cloture within a few days.  Byron York thinks it's because Reid fears falling support for this measure.

Along those lines, I look at a poll showing a thin margin of support for the Gang's bill at the Corner:
Overall, enforcement beats the path to citizenship 62 percent to 36. Independents support enforcement over legalization 65–33; even Democrats only back legalization over enforcement by a single point (50–49), so it is very likely that a majority of Democrats in more conservative-leaning states (e.g., Indiana, Montana, and West Virginia) back enforcement over legalization. Interestingly, support for security over the pathway to citizenship is highest in the Midwest (65–34), a place the GOP will need to lock down to restore its presidential chances, and the Northeast (66–34), where Republicans have been decimated and need to rebuild.


SHORT OF A PROMISE: Earlier on Tuesday, Jonathan Strong hinted that Speaker Boehner may not apply the Hastert rule to any vote on a House-Senate conference bill on immigration:
At a press conference following the GOP meeting, Boehner said he “suggested to our members today that any immigration-reform bill that is going to go into law ought to have a majority of both parties’ support if we’re serious about making that happen. So I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have the majority support of Republicans.”
When I asked him if the commitment to garnering the support of a majority of Republicans extended to any conference report on immigration, Boehner said, “We’ll see when we get there.”
Later on Tuesday, a Boehner aide clarified this remark to Strong in order to suggest that something like the Hastert rule could apply to the conference report, too.  But Strong sounds a little doubtful: "Boehner said that the immigration bill 'ought to' enjoy the support of a majority of the GOP conference. It’s strong language but short of a promise."

Chuck Schumer's team still holds out hope that Boehner will violate the Hastert rule.  Brian Fallon, Schumer's communications director tweeted, "FLASHBACK: Boehner also boasted he wouldn't pass fiscal cliff w/o majority of GOP. Then he did anyway " and "Unlike w/other bills when Boehner violated Hastert rule, his leadership team- Cantor, McCarthy, Ryan-supports #CIR. Fewer knives out."  Is Fallon just saying that to soothe skittish GOP senators?  Or does he have real hope that Boehner could override the will of a majority of Republicans by teaming up with Democrats to pass a "comprehensive" legalization bill.

Many on the left seem to think that Boehner could very easily break Hastert in order to push a "comprehensive" bill: see Greg Sargent on why he thinks Boehner is bluffing here.  Harry Reid seems confident that Boehner will budge, too.

David Drucker of the Washington Examiner, who has pretty solid sources and is a keen Hill watcher, thinks that Boehner probably will apply Hastert to both any initial House immigration bill and a conference report on an immigration bill.  As he wrote in an email, "I can't imagine [Boehner] backs a strong GOP bill in House and lets it get gutted in Conference and then runs a bill that only gets supported by less than half of his Republicans."  

LOOKING FOR A MAJORITY:  Is Boehner hoping to get enough of his caucus to go along with the Gang of Eight?  Chris Frates wonders:
As a senior GOP leadership aide put it, “Our conference is all over the place. Our goal here is to try and find that little slice of land where we can walk through and we’re not crucified on either side.”
Republicans on and off the Hill say Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy all want to do something on immigration. Boehner “really wants to get that done but he has to be real quiet about it because if he puts his name on it and his brand on it, like he did with the big (fiscal-cliff) deal, then it’s probably going to die under its own weight,” a former GOP leadership aide said.
So House leaders have been meeting privately with members, making the case that inaction on immigration will be more costly than doing something. Weeks into the debate, it remains a hard sell among reform opponents, particularly members who do not want to offer citizenship to people here illegally. They worry that any House legislation—such as a tough border-security bill most of them are after—will ultimately be watered down in negotiations with the Senate.
“What will have to happen, and is happening in private discussions, is that we have to convince these guys if we’re going to go to conference, we’re not going to cave on our principles,” a senior House GOP aide said. “That is the sales job you have to make to those guys.”
(Also on Tuesday: a House immigration enforcement measure made it through a day of mark-up...)

The Danged Fence: Thune's fence amendment (which would have required that some border fencing be put in place before legalization) failed 39-54.  The Gang stood unified against this measure.  (And Arizona's voters in 2010 thought Sen. McCain wanted to complete that danged fence!)  R's against (in addition to Gang): Ayotte and Murkowski.  D's for: Manchin and Pryor.  Interesting votes: Collins and Kirk voting for the fence.
Improved Visa Enforcement: Vitter's amendment to demand a visa-tracking system be in place before legalization failed 36-58.  Again, the Gang opposed.  Other non-Gang R's opposed: Ayotte, Collins, and Murkowski.  D's in favor: Pryor.
TAKEAWAY: The Gang won't let any amendment pass that makes legalization dependent upon enforcement.  The legalization must be unequivocal.  Could the continued failure of pro-enforcement amendments signal to some undecideds that the Gang will never agree to any amendment that really increases the enforcement profile of this bill?

ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB: Andrew Stiles wonders where Ted Cruz is....TNR's Isaac Chotiner warns Rubio and Republicans that the hope of taking immigration "off the table" is going to be disappointed....Philip Klein: CBO says S. 744 will expand Obamacare....Laura Ingraham: Why is Rep. Sam Johnson @SamsPressShop still part of the corrupt House Gang of 7? An insult to US workers. #CantFixMustDitch 202-225-4201...Mickey Kaus says it's time for opponents of S. 744 to unleash YouTube and gives out a list of Senators to think about:
Hammer-ready (Have indicated they’ll vote for Schumer-Rubio)
Ayotte (who was spectacularly ignorant of the bill’s provisions)
Begich (already getting testy!)
Landrieu (do it for North Dakota!)
Murkowski (voted against border fence)
Persuadable (Still wavering)
(Link to this issue here.)

Is One Out of Four Good Enough?

The key number for the recent CBO report on S. 744 is not $197 billion or $700 billion but 25%: that's how effective the CBO predicts the Gang of Eight bill will be in blocking future illegal immigration:
However, other aspects of the bill would probably increase the number of unauthorized residents—in particular, people overstaying their visas issued under the new programs for temporary workers. CBO estimates that, under the bill, the net annual flow of unauthorized residents would decrease by about 25 percent relative to what would occur under current law...
So the guest-worker programs could, as some have suggested, increase the number of illegal immigrants.

And I thought Senator Schumer said that the Gang of Eight bill would end illegal immigration.

See also Stephen Dinan's write-up about the CBO report here.

(Look out for more on the CBO report in tomorrow morning's A Certain Immigration Update.)

Changing Rules

Jonathan Strong reveals that Speaker Boehner may not apply the Hastert rule to any vote on a House-Senate conference report on immigration:
At a press conference following the GOP meeting, Boehner said he “suggested to our members today that any immigration-reform bill that is going to go into law ought to have a majority of both parties’ support if we’re serious about making that happen. So I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have the majority support of Republicans.”
When I asked him if the commitment to garnering the support of a majority of Republicans extended to any conference report on immigration, Boehner said, “We’ll see when we get there.”
This means, of course, that the House could vote for a pro-enforcement measure only to have it go to conference with something like S. 744.  Boehner seems to be suggesting here that he could override the will of a majority of Republicans by teaming up with Democrats to pass a "comprehensive" legalization bill if it came out of conference.

Monday, June 17, 2013

You Can't Cut It (A Certain Immigration Update)

A daily dose of immigration-related links collected by Fred Bauer
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The "bombshell" of Ryan Lizza's New Yorker article on immigration echoed through the political world on Monday.  Perhaps the most damaging quote from this article was the following by a Rubio aide:
‘There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it,’ a Rubio aide told me. ‘There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly.’
Also damaging, as Hot Air notes, is Lizza's reporting about the White House's heavy hand in crafting the Gang of Eight bill.

It's clear that Rubio's office realizes the danger of these remarks; it immediately pushed back against them, alleging that Lizza took them out of context.  So Lizza posted a bigger excerpt of the exchange on Twitter:
RL: Well their argument is, what, that they have American workers for these jobs, they don’t need this program.
Rubio Aide 1: Yeah. I mean, one of the problems you have with this, “Oh there’s American workers who are unemployed.” There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly because. . .
Rubio Aide 2: But the same is true for the high-skilled workers.
Rubio Aide 1: Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything.
Does this context really improve the quote much?

These revelations pose a few problems for the immigration bill.  The statements by Rubio's aide comes precisely at a time when anxiety about the immigration bill's effects on the poor/unemployed is starting to rise.  If the GOP really is going to become the party of economic opportunity for the broad middle, "American workers...can't cut it" seems a troublesome slogan.

Also, Lizza's report seems to suggest that this immigration bill is President Obama's bill.  Lizza implies that the White House has veto power over many sections of the bill.  Rubio and some other senators supportive of the Gang of Eight have been criticizing the administration's handling of the IRS, Benghazi, and other issues---only to be working hand in hand with the administration to establish what one official calls "one of the top five legislative accomplishments in the last twenty years."  In terms of legislative accomplishment, it seems as though the president's team would view the Senate immigration bill as a perfect companion to Obamacare on the trophy shelf.

Also, this controversy moves the immigration debate from concerns about electioneering and process to the fate of the American worker.

FALLOUT: Mark Krikorian: "Survival of the Fittest: Vote GOP" not exactly a winning campaign slogan...Geoffrey Norman: a lot of people who can't cut it work on Capitol Hill....Conn Carroll: "Everyone in Washington knows personnel is policy. Rubio can no more distance himself from this aide’s statement than Obama can distance himself from the supposedly “rogue” IRS agents in Cincinnati."....Jonathan Chait: "The Rubio aide quote is not only a piece of shocking candor, but also the biggest single blunder the pro-reform coalition has committed so far. Party elites may nod along when they read it, but there’s a reason nobody in politics ever says anything like this."

BY THE WAY: Has big labor chosen to support the Gang of Eight bill rather than defend the dignity of workers?  Messages to the AFL-CIO press team about the "can’t cut it" remarks got crickets in response. 

ELSEWHERE ON THE HILL: David Drucker reports that Boehner is likely to apply the "Hastert rule" to immigration after all...
House Speaker John Boehner is not going to bring a comprehensive immigration-reform plan to the floor if a majority of Republicans don't support it, sources familiar with his plans said.
"No way in hell," is how several described the chances of the speaker acting on such a proposal without a majority of his majority behind him.
Boehner, R-Ohio, does not view immigration in the same vein as the fiscal cliff last December, when he backed a bill that protected most Americans from a tax increase even though less than half of the GOP lawmakers were with him, said multiple sources, who spoke anonymously to allow greater candor.
With economists warning that the deep cuts and higher taxes needed to avoid the fiscal cliff could devastate an already ailing economy, Boehner felt compelled to compromise with President Obama and allow taxes to rise on the wealthiest taxpayers. He feels no such urgency about immigration reform, lawmakers said.

In the aftermath of Lizza's article, the Speaker might be even more inclined to follow that rule. (Is the grumbling among some of the rank-and-file part of the reason for this switch?)

Big question: does this news make it easier for Senate GOP to support S. 744 or harder?  Easier: It lets senators believe that some firewall still exists in the House.  Harder: It says to uncertain senators, Do you want a hard vote for a bill that will never become law?

ON THE FLOOR: Setting up the pieces on the Senate floor on Monday.  Reid praised S. 744; Sessions criticized.  Look for a few votes on amendments on Tuesday afternoon (Thune's fence amendment likely to be one of them).  The votes seem to have 60-vote thresholds....Keep an eye out for a CBO score on S. 744 on Tuesday....Also, Sen. Cruz proposes a voter-ID amendment...Late-breaking update: Byron York on a new "enforcement" amendment to be considered....

LOWERING EXPECTATIONS: Gang of 8 member Dick Durbin is now backtracking from the goal of 70 votes...

IN THE COMMENTARIAT: Andrew Sullivan previews the tactics the left will use even if the GOP passes mass is part of the story....Rush continues to emphasize more populist themes....At National Review: the editors continue to lament "Rubio's folly" and Victor Davis Hanson considers some of the stakes of the immigration debate: "Indeed, the tragedy of illegal immigration is that it becomes the cornerstone for hundreds of agendas: those of the self-interested Mexican government, exploitative American employers, the new ethnic chauvinists, the upper middle classes who deem themselves lords of the manor, and, yes, the elite whose professions are as noble as their deeds are not....In the meantime, for those who profit both materially and psychologically from something that largely benefits the elite and hurts the mass, at least spare us the hypocritical aspersions and bottled pieties."

(Personal note: Thanks to Conn Carroll, Mickey Kaus, and Mark Krikorian, among others, for mentioning this newsletter on its launch.)

(Link to this issue here.)