Politics does not favor senate immigration bill

Washington Post:

Republican House members facing the toughest races this fall are overwhelmingly opposed to any deal that provides illegal immigrants a path to citizenship -- an election-year dynamic that significantly dims the prospects that President Bush will win the immigration compromise he is seeking, according to Republican lawmakers and leadership aides.

The opposition spreads across the geographical and ideological boundaries that often divide House Republicans, according to interviews with about half of the 40 or so lawmakers whom political handicappers consider most vulnerable to defeat this November. At-risk Republicans -- from moderates such as Christopher Shays in suburban Connecticut and Steve Chabot in Cincinnati to conservative J.D. Hayworth in Arizona -- said they are adamant that Congress not take any action that might be perceived as rewarding illegal behavior.

Shays, one of the few vulnerable House Republicans open to a broad compromise with the Senate, said strong protests from his constituents this month prompted him to speak out for the first time against citizenship for undocumented workers. "It would be a huge mistake to give people a path to citizenship that came here illegally," he said.

The nearly united front of Republicans from the most competitive districts against Bush's approach to immigration underscores the difficulties the president is facing as he tries to coax his partisans in the House to embrace what he calls a "rational middle ground," along the lines of a bipartisan bill that passed the Senate by 62 to 36 Thursday. GOP leaders in the House are basing their legislative strategy in large part on how it will affect members in the most jeopardy this fall.

Several Republicans said they are getting more bricks in the mail -- as part of a new grass-roots campaign promoting a fence between the United States and Mexico -- than letters or calls supporting Bush and the Senate bill. Most said 80 to 90 percent of feedback coming from constituents last week was in opposition to Bush and the Senate on the citizenship question.

...

Most of the Senators voting for this bill were not up for reelection this year, but every House members is. The bill has so many things wrong with it, that substantial revisions will be required to get passage in the House. Also, it biggest supporters, are the people who are here illegally and can't vote legally. At this point many who oppose illegal immigration see their best alternative to a negotiated agreement as no bill at all.

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