The farce being played out on the floor of the U.S. Senate is billed as a sober debate on amendments to the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill. Actually, it looks more like a pilot for a new reality TV show, “Republican leaders think we’re as stupid as they are.”
This Capitol Hill comedy reminds me of a scene from the classic Hollywood film “Blazing Saddles.” The hapless hero points a loaded pistol at his own head and threatens to pull the trigger if his enemies don’t back off.
In that same vein, Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas has stepped forward and bravely threatened to oppose the amnesty bill unless his cosmetic amendment is adopted. The truth is that his amendment does not strengthen border security to any significant degree. The Grassley amendment was a more serious attempt to do that, but a vote on it was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Reid. Genuine border security will not be a part of the bill.
Sadly, this kabuki dance around fake amendments is what passes these days for high-level debate in the United States Congress. And, of course, the outcome is tightly scripted and well understood by all parties. The “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill will pass the Senate by a comfortable margin and will be hailed as a “huge bipartisan victory for immigration reform.”
All that has been predictable for many months, and we should not be shocked by any of it. The Senate Democratic leaders, principally Sen. Schumer and his Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Marco Rubio, have played their cards well, aided as always by a cooperative mainstream media and dutiful K-Street Chorus. Democrats need just enough Republican support to call the bill “bipartisan” – but without compromises that would undermine the goal of the bill, an amnesty for all illegal aliens not conditioned on “enforcement first” or serious border security. Thanks to Sen. Rubio, the Senate bill meets all the Democrats’ goals.
But there is another, more intricate and more dishonest farce taking shape in the Republican-controlled House. Republicans in the House could stop the sellout of national sovereignty and the rule of law, but instead, they are planning to join the sellout. They are preparing to ignore the 2012 Republican Platform, the polls and the strong preferences of grass-roots Republicans to capitulate to the Senate in all essential features of an amnesty bill.
Here’s how it will work. The House will pass its own amnesty bill that will contain tougher provisions for border security, more rigorous features on interior enforcement, and stronger limits on eligibility for Obamacare and welfare benefits. The two bills will then go to a joint “conference committee,” whose sole mission will be to craft a “bipartisan compromise.”
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Just like magic, a “bipartisan compromise on amnesty” will emerge from the joint Senate-House conference committee. It will then go to the floor and be adopted – by an overwhelming vote of 90 percent of House Democrats and 25 percent of House Republicans.
Yet, it remains a deep mystery to ordinary folks how any member of Congress can vote for any bill on immigration reform that grants the Obama administration any latitude in the enforcement of key provisions. After the Fast and Furious fiasco, the continuing Benghazi lies and the mushrooming IRS and NSA scandals, still, we can trust the Obama administration to enforce new immigration laws that are by design filled with loopholes, exemptions and waivers? And you can say that with a straight face?
There is a different path House Republicans could follow that would actually fix our “broken immigration system” without making it worse. House Republicans could follow the path they have in private agreed is the more intelligent and responsible approach to immigration reform. The problem is, that path will take more courage than the Republican leaders have demonstrated thus far in the amnesty debate.
The House could produce not one mammoth bill but several small bills, each aimed at a specific problem of our “broken immigration system.” The House could first pass a bill that fixes the very acute border security and interior enforcement problems. Then, proceed to separate bills on other problems, like guest worker programs. When all those problems are resolved through separate bills, then the problem of legal status for the millions of illegal aliens now in the country could be addressed without stimulating a new wave of illegal entries across our borders.
That is the only way the planned capitulation to the Senate amnesty bill can be avoided. The House should not bring any amnesty bill to the House floor for in the 2013 session of Congress — not the Senate-passed bill and not any House-originated amnesty bill – unless and until all other problems are first resolved in separate bills and those bills are then passed by the Senate and signed by the president.
Regrettably, there is no one in the House Republican leadership willing to follow this path, and it is doubtful that a majority of the Republican caucus have the backbone to pursue it over the objections from leadership. But make no mistake: It’s not the lack of an alternative that is the problem. Leadership is the problem.