Why Harry Reid May Want To Let Frist Drive Immigration Reform Into A Wall
You’ll recall that the Senate debate on immigration reform broke down just before the recess over the issue of how many amendments Harry Reid would allow Bill Frist’s caucus to introduce to the Arlen Specter negotiated Judiciary Committee bill, which itself was largely built upon the McCain-Kennedy earned citizenship proposal. Reid also balked at the possibility that Frist wouldn’t appoint Judiciary Committee members as the Senate negotiators for the eventual negotiations with the crazies in the House. At the time this broke down, both McCain and Kennedy were unhappy with Reid because they both felt they could manage and defeat the amendments that Frist and the GOP were going to introduce, which may mean that Frist was allowing his caucus to introduce the amendments for show, without any real chance of seriously modifying that bill. (Then again, would Frist let McCain claim a major victory on anything?)
Since the recess, both ends of the debate have gained some energy. There is talk that Reid will now allow a new debate and the introduction of the amendments, so that he and Frist can get a bill over to the House. I’m sure that Reid still, and always will, distrust Frist and his motives and doesn’t want to get rolled. My response is simple: let him roll you on this one Harry.
Let McCain and Kennedy manage this bill and the floor debate, and let them stand out in front to get this bill out of the Senate. Let McCain deal with his own crazies in the GOP, and let him deal with Frist and the other GOP contenders in 2008 himself. When the bill gets over to the House, the nutcases like Sensenbrenner and Rohrabacher will try to strip the bill of the earned citizenship provision and make it strictly a security and deportation bill. Let them, and let McCain deal with that. In fact, let that debate take place all inside the GOP for all I care. By the way, can someone please ask the family values crowd like Sensenbrenner, Tancredo, and Rohrabacher what they plan to do with the millions of children citizens of these deportees when the GOP deports their parents?
Even if the House is able to get a harsh bill out of conference, past the Senate, and onto the president’s desk, it is a win-win for Democrats. Bush will either be forced to sign the bill, thereby fracturing the alliance Rove has aimed for with Catholics and Latinos (as well as discarding all of Bush’s rhetoric on the subject), or Bush will be forced to veto a bill from his own Congress (after he has already endorsed the basics behind McCain-Kennedy, after previously applauding the harsh House bill), which will enrage the conservative base of his party months before the midterm elections. And you get the added benefit of watching Frist and McCain spit on each other, while Reid stands off to the side telling midterm election voters that things would actually get done in Washington if more Democrats were elected.
Senator Reid, I understand your distrust of Frist and your unwillingness to get rolled by the GOP. But if there was one issue and one time to allow for such a thing to happen, this is it. Simply say that Democrats support McCain-Kennedy, and let the GOP march into hell on this one.