September 2007

Legislation, litigation and politics | Capitol Hill

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Legislation, litigation and politics

by Craig S. Brightup
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When comprehensive immigration reform legislation failed to make it out of the Senate in June, it marked a low point in Congress's ability to deal with major issues. Despite the issue's controversial nature, President Bush demonstrated leadership by calling on Congress to find solutions to the U.S.'s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants and its work force and border security needs. But instead, Congress opted to "kick the can down the road." Ironically, similar legislation made it out of the Senate in the previous Congress with Republicans in charge but did not get that far under Democrats.

To be sure, a number of Republican senators worked to stop the legislation in this Congress, and their visibility and the House Republicans' opposition garnered much attention.

Several Democrats also worked to scuttle the bill through "poison pill" amendments and other means. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will not take up immigration legislation, and The Washington Times reports Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's immediate past chairman, says Congress will not take up the issue until the beginning of the second term of the next Democrat to win the White House, which presumably means 2013. In the meantime, states and localities are moving to fill the void left by congressional inaction.

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