The House Hangs Tough

We share the general dismay with various aspects of the immigration legislation that recently passed the Senate, but that bill is not the one that is ultimately going to be adopted. The action shifts now to the conference committee, and early indications are that the House conferees are going to hang tough. The Washington Times reports:

One of the top House negotiators on immigration said yesterday the only way a final compromise bill can pass is if the Senate drops its path to citizenship for current illegal aliens…

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he is willing to accept a temporary-worker program for future workers, but citizenship for illegal aliens — which he said definitely constitutes “amnesty” — is out.

“A guest-worker program I think can be on the table if it does not contain an amnesty, but only if the employer sanctions and the increased border patrols are effective,” the Wisconsin Republican said.”

Other House members are even more vocal. Like Georgia’s Charlie Norwood:

[The Senate bill] constitutes treachery against U.S. sovereignty [and will be] dead on arrival in the House. The U.S. Senate voted to sell out the American people to vested and foreign interests with passage of a bill granting not only amnesty, but preferential treatment of illegal aliens over American citizens.

So the lines are clearly drawn. So far, House Republicans are squarely behind their enforcement-only bill, which passed with only 17 Republican “no” votes. By rights, this should be shaping up as a Republican v. Democrat issue that would give the Republicans a huge boost at the polls in November. While the House enforcement-only bill passed with almost unanimous Republican support, the Senate bill is essentially a Democrat proposal: Democrats supported it 38 (39 if you count Jeffords) to 4, while Republicans opposed it 32 to 22. But the administration’s support for the Senate’s approach has neutralized the issue from a partisan standpoint.

All House members, of course, have to face the voters in the fall. So far, it appears that their conferees will do everything they can to make sure that the bill that emerges from conference is acceptable to those voters. It would be helpful to contact your own representatives as well as the conferees, to urge them to hold out. I don’t have a list of the conferees, but if someone can track it down, we’ll post it.