Morning Action: Gang of Eight Amnesty Bill Must Be Killed in the House
KILL THE BILL. William Kristol and Rich Lowry explain why neither of them approves of the Gang of Eight amnesty bill and why the House should kill the bill without hesitation:
There is no case for the bill, and certainly no urgency to pass it. During the debate over immigration in 2006–07, Republican rhetoric at times had a flavor that communicated a hostility to immigrants as such. That was a mistake, and it did political damage. This time has been different. The case against the bill has been as responsible as it has been damning.
It’s become clear that you can be pro-immigrant and pro-immigration, and even favor legalization of the 11 million illegal immigrants who are here and increases in some categories of legal immigration—and vigorously oppose this bill.
The bill’s first fatal deficiency is that it doesn’t solve the illegal-immigration problem. The enforcement provisions are riddled with exceptions, loopholes, and waivers. Every indication is that they are for show and will be disregarded, just as prior notional requirements to build a fence or an entry/exit visa system have been—and just as President Obama has recently announced he’s ignoring aspects of Obamacare that are inconvenient to enforce on schedule. Why won’t he waive a requirement for the use of E-Verify just as he’s unilaterally delayed the employer mandate? The fact that the legalization of illegal immigrants comes first makes it all the more likely that enforcement provisions will be ignored the same way they were after passage of the 1986 amnesty.
It appears that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will kill the bill. He said Monday that border security must be “in place” before any other steps are taken to fix our legal immigration system and before beginning the process of legalizing immigrants here illegally. Moreover, he reiterated that the House will not take up the Senate’s bill:
“The House is going to do its own job on developing an immigration bill,” Boehner said Monday after an event on the Capitol steps on student loans. “But it’s real clear, from everything that I’ve seen and read over the last couple of weeks, that the American people expect that we’ll have strong border security in place before we begin the process of legalizing and fixing our legal immigration system.”
Boehner has been deliberately circumspect in weighing in on the specifics of immigration reform proposals, and so his comments on the timing of legalization are significant as the House embarks on its own effort to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws.
The Speaker will lead a special meeting of the House Republican Conference on Wednesday to discuss immigration reform, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has said the House could vote on proposals this month before the August recess.
STUDENT LOANS. The Senate has still not come to an agreement on student loans, a politically charged issue:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed cloture Monday on a Democrat-sponsored one-year extension of the expired fixed rate of 3.4 percent for subsidized Stafford loans, likely setting up a Wednesday procedural vote. But the politics around the issue are much more complicated, as Democrat Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and independent Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, are set to present the details of their deal with Senate Republicans at the party’s lunch Tuesday. They, too, would like a vote on their plan, but no assurances had been made as of Monday that they would get one.
The split among Democrats largely stems from a move months ago by the Obama administration to present compromise policies in its annual budget, frustrating congressional Democrats and opening the door for Republicans to get policies they want using the framework as support. The plan introduced by Manchin, King and Senate Republicans largely resembles the White House proposal that would peg rates to the 10-year Treasury notes. Democratic Sen. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware also supports the bill.
OBAMACARE. The White House has known for several months that it cannot implement Obamacare. More and more problems are going to arise:
As far back as March, a top IT official at the Department of Health and Human Services said the department’s current ambition for the law’s new online insurance marketplaces was that they not be “a Third-World experience.” Several provisions had already been abandoned in an effort to simplify the administration’s task and maximize the chances that the new systems would be ready to go live in October, when customers are supposed to start signing up for insurance.
In April, several consultants focusing on the new online marketplaces, known as exchanges, toldNational Journal that the idealized, seamless user experience initially envisioned under the Affordable Care Act was no longer possible, as the administration axed non-essential provisions that were too complex to implement in time. (Read the story for some examples and commentary.) That focus has intensified lately, as officials announced that they would not be requiring employers to cover their workers next year or states to verify residents’ incomes before signing them up for insurance.
ENERGY and WATER. Today the House starts its amendment process and floor debate on a $30.4 billion Energy and Water Development appropriations bill:
Tuesday starts what figures to be a free-wheeling amendment process and floor debate that could carry on for two days.
The GOP-crafted $30.4 billion fiscal 2014 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill is ideologically far apart from the budget Senate Democrats and the president have put together. House Republicans say the bill reflects a tighter fiscal situation, as Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) argued that it “gets back to the basics.”
The House bill nearly halves clean-energy spending from last year’s enacted levels. It also aims to restart using Yucca Mountain as the nation’s sole permanent nuclear waste repository — Obama pulled the plug on the Nevada site in 2010 — despite White House and Senate resistance.