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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    Border Battle Now a GOP Turf War

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... s-national

    NEWS ANALYSIS
    Border Battle Now a GOP Turf War
    House Republicans take on the president with their plan to hold public immigration hearings.

    By Janet Hook and Peter Wallsten
    Times Staff Writers

    June 22, 2006

    WASHINGTON The unorthodox plan by House Republicans for a series of hearings on immigration policy represents an aggressive effort by hard-line critics of illegal immigration to reassert control over the emotional debate and wrest it from President Bush as this year's elections approach.

    In proposing hearings around the country in July and August, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has made plain that he and other Republicans are willing to scuttle Bush's top domestic priority rather than give ground on Senate legislation backed by the president that would provide a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants.

    The hearings will hand a giant megaphone to vocal conservatives, who White House officials had hoped would be overshadowed by the president's more moderate tone on how to rewrite immigration laws. And that is a major setback for Bush and GOP strategists who worry that rhetoric lambasting the citizenship provision will alienate the nation's growing number of Latino voters.

    Also, the House decision to conduct the public hearings seems to all but ensure another high-profile policy flameout for a president who, after winning reelection in 2004, promised to spend his political capital on bold initiatives.

    Last year, Bush's proposed restructuring of Social Security landed with a thud on Capitol Hill. Now, his usually steadfast allies in the House appear unmoved by his embrace of the Senate's multi-pronged immigration bill a view he promoted in a national speech in mid-May.

    Hastert, who hatched the idea for hearings, denied it was a delaying tactic designed to kill the chances for any agreement on an immigration bill. But other House Republicans acknowledged the gambit aimed to build support for toughening border security the sole thrust of an immigration bill the House passed late last year and sought to spotlight opposition to combining that approach with the legalization provision in the Senate bill.

    The White House and its allies on the immigration issue had been hoping House and Senate negotiators would begin meeting to iron out the differences between their bills. Rather than retreat behind closed doors for such talks, however, House Republicans have decided to focus on strengthening their bargaining position through the public hearings.

    They already have taken steps to stigmatize the Senate bill within GOP ranks. Although several Senate Republicans, including John McCain of Arizona and Mel Martinez of Florida, played major roles in crafting the legislation, House Republicans are calling it the "Reid-Kennedy bill," referring to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and liberal icon Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

    Details on the logistics and schedule for the public hearings are still being worked out, but they probably will not follow the traditional format of sessions on Capitol Hill, where both sides of an issue are aired with at least a pretense of balance.

    "These hearings are going to be an effort to gather input on the troubling provisions" that are part of the Senate bill, said Kevin Madden, spokesman for House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). "House members have strong opinions about this bill. Gathering input will not only foster greater understanding, but move a public consensus toward the House bill."

    This is not the first time the immigration debate has spun out of Bush's control. He played virtually no role when the House passed its border security bill in mid-December without proposals addressing the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

    In the spring, large demonstrations protested the get-tough House bill, which includes a provision that would criminalize illegal immigration.

    Bush sought to guide the debate with his prime-time speech. The White House was buoyed when the Senate passed its broader bill in late May.

    But a procedural glitch yet to be resolved prevented House and Senate negotiators from being named to begin efforts toward a compromise. Meanwhile, House Republicans continued to hear complaints from their constituents about illegal immigration, intensifying fears of political fallout if they are associated with the citizenship plan that critics say is amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    "Our guys, the more time they have been at home, realize that the House position border security first is where we need to be," said Sean Spicer, spokesman for the House Republican Conference.

    The GOP lawmakers became even more committed to highlighting "that the House is distinct from the Senate" in the immigration debate, he said.

    Making that point was one reason Hastert decided to hold the hearings. He discussed the idea with other GOP leaders last week but held off announcing the plan because he did not want to distract from the chamber's much-publicized debate on the war in Iraq.

    Tuesday morning, Hastert met with the committee chairmen who would convene the various panels. They agreed to the plan unanimously, despite any embarrassment or disappointment it might cause the White House.

    "This is not the way [the White House] wanted things to go," said Laura Reiff, co-chair of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a coalition of business groups backing the Bush approach on immigration.

    Some Bush allies in the debate said the hearings could propel efforts to reach agreement on a bill.

    "There are a lot of voters who want [immigration problems] solved, who want Congress to govern," said Tamar Jacoby, an expert on immigration issues at the pro-business Manhattan Institute think tank who has been working with White House strategists. "After we spend two months talking about this it's going to deepen people's hunger for a solution."

    But other Bush allies are resigned to a stalemate that prevents any bill from being sent to him.

    "We got too close to the election for any sort of rational conversation" on an overhaul of immigration policy, said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, an economically conservative advocacy group.

    Norquist said the White House fell short in efforts to effectively enlist to its side the business community, which backs the guest worker program called for in the Senate bill.

    Indeed, in the midst of the bickering on Capitol Hill in recent weeks, organizers quietly shut down a White House-backed coalition called Americans for Border and Economic Security. The group had been created to raise millions of dollars from businesses that rely on immigrant labor to help lobby for the Bush position.

    "Unfortunately, business just never came to the table," said a GOP strategist who worked with the White House on the effort and requested anonymity when discussing it because of the topic's political sensitivity.

    "They didn't understand that if they didn't shape the debate, if they didn't make their arguments, the thing would be hijacked politically," the strategist said. "Well, now it's fully hijacked."
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  2. #2
    Senior Member CountFloyd's Avatar
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    "There are a lot of voters who want [immigration problems] solved, who want Congress to govern," said Tamar Jacoby, an expert on immigration issues at the pro-business Manhattan Institute think tank who has been working with White House strategists. "After we spend two months talking about this it's going to deepen people's hunger for a solution."
    There's Tamar and the Manhatton Institute again.

    See http://www.alipac.us/modules.php?name=F ... ic&t=32331 and http://www.alipac.us/modules.php?name=F ... ic&t=32376 for more.
    It's like hell vomited and the Bush administration appeared.

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