Mickey Kaus wonders whether President Bush will sign or (pocket) veto the border fence bill that he and we have followed. Kaus’s update includes his usual close observation of interesting details, though it lacks the alliteration that we have come to expect from his updates on the bill. Kaus also directs us to Friday’s Washington Post story on the fence:
No sooner did Congress authorize construction of a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border last week than lawmakers rushed to approve separate legislation that ensures it will never be built, at least not as advertised, according to Republican lawmakers and immigration experts.
GOP leaders have singled out the fence as one of the primary accomplishments of the recently completed session. Many lawmakers plan to highlight their $1.2 billion down payment on its construction as they campaign in the weeks before the midterm elections.
But shortly before recessing late Friday, the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money to a combination of projects — not just the physical barrier along the southern border. The funds may also be spent on roads, technology and “tactical infrastructure” to support the Department of Homeland Security’s preferred option of a “virtual fence.”
What’s more, in a late-night concession to win over wavering Republicans, GOP congressional leaders pledged in writing that Native American tribes, members of Congress, governors and local leaders would get a say in “the exact placement” of any structure, and that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would have the flexibility to use alternatives “when fencing is ineffective or impractical.”
There was a last-minute backroom deal that potentially watered down the 1996 welfare reform bill too–but in the end it didn’t have that much effect….P.S.: If I were a Democrat, I’d publicize these loopholes, though, to demoralize the GOP base–in case they’re not demoralized enough at the moment.