Saturday, April 08, 2006

Death of immigration reform

Immigration reform appears to be dead in the Senate. The compromise measure which had broad bipartisan support was about to be amended and ripped apart, after which the conference committee would have destroyed any other good proposals. Republicans refused to stand behind their bill, and Democrats wouldn't stand by as the good ideas were carved out of the bill.

So it's dead. Not because people don't think the issue matters. It appears that, for reasons that I find obscure, there's a bipartisan consensus in Congress that this is the issue that must be addressed.

It died because the Republican leadership wasn't interested in pushing through a truly bipartisan compromise, and preferred to let the bill die than to give up a chance to demonize Democrats over whatever their amendments would have done. The Republicans, including Jim Ryun, wanted their unworkable ideas to be pushed through, even though many of the ideas don't even work for the base. For what it's worth, I agree with j.d.'s linked post, though I'll point out that it isn't clear, what, if anything, should be done. And "nothing" is a fine answer, except that it leaves practice and policy at loggerheads.

In any event, on the 13th, Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin will speak about her new book Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the U.S. House of Representatives at the Dole Institute. It should be a good opportunity to learn about the Delay years and what went wrong with this, and many other, ideas in Congress. Perhaps she'll even explain how Senator Roberts went from the guy you could work with across party lines to a partisan hatchetman.