Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bush's pushes continue

Stating the seemingly obvious yesterday, President Bush said "It seems like there's nothing but disagreement on immigration policy in Washington. Yet there's a growing consensus among all parties and all regions of the country that fundamental reforms are needed."

Yesterday President Bush spoke to a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in southeastern New Mexico about 100 miles from the Mexican border. According to the Washington Post, Bush continued "In other words, people are coming to the conclusion we got to do something about a system that isn't working. And while the differences grab the headlines, the similarities in approaches are striking."

Today he was in Omaha, Nebraska talking to a program for new immigrants at Metropolitan Community College: "You pay attention to all the sharp elbows being thrown and you know, the people opinionating and screaming and hollering and calling each other names. But there is a consensus emerging on this issue." (Washington Post)

President Bush is trying hard to ensure that Congress works out a bill for him to sign. He's pulling out all the stops. Nebraska is a strongly Republican state whose moderate Democratic senator Ben Nelson voted against the Senate bill. The other senator Chuck Hagel was co-author of the compromise Senate bill that passed.

[Bush's not-unrelated gambit for a constituional amendment to ban gay marriage failed in the Senate yesterday, but that may not have been the point. Bush is taking great pains to win over his conservative base and the last time he brought up gay marriage it worked in his favor. As a 'straw man', it's a very useful organizing tool to remind conservative voters why they elected him and maybe woo them to his approach to immigration. See more on this at The Gay Panic Button: Why pressing it won't work this time.]

Meanwhile in Washington, procedural questions are holding up the Congressional conference committee which would reconcile the Senate and House bills. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Senate bill would require illegal immigrants to pay back taxes and fines to gain legal status while the Constitution says that only the House can initiate bills that raise revenues. As a result, there has been no agreement on how to proceed. Read more on this by clicking here Senate Border Bill Steps on House Turf.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wants Bush to apply even more leverage on the process. "The president helped us on this issue, but he needs to help us a lot more."

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) pointed out that the main author of the House bill, Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), recently spoken positively about a temporary worker program. "It's a sign that the ice is melting," Cornyn said.

Only time will tell...