Immigration bill: 'murder by blue slip' planned

A piece of Jonathan's gets me thinking about the immigration bill (I've been successful in repressing hitherto!); and a Hillpiece whets my appetite further:
The trump card conservatives may hold is a constitutional rule that revenue-related bills must originate in the House. The Senate immigration measure requires that illegal immigrants pay back taxes before becoming citizens, opening the door to a House protest, dubbed a "blue slip" for the color of its paper.

We're talking S 1384, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (as sponsored by Uncle Harry).

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Energy vultures are circling the Capitol

Congressional lobbyists feed off the insecurity, desperation, timeservingness and greed of MCs.

And it looks as if the 110th will be no less sumptuous a buffet than previous Congresses.

There's the ethanolicious farm bill, of course, that's being concocted by Peterson's House Ag; and (I'm tipped by a Stoller piece) then there's S 1321 (the puckishly named Energy Savings Act - guess who'll be making the savings?) reported out by Bingaman's Senate Energy.

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Pelosi: no more 'majority of the majority'?

It's a point I looked at in principle a day or two back.

But, according to a CQpiece from last week that somehow passed me by, it's a question that's being raised by Dem reps:

The lopsided number of Democratic votes against the war funding bill has House liberals worried about how often Speaker Nancy Pelosi will cut centrist deals, leaving the liberal base out of the loop on policy decisions.

The agreement to provide $120 billion in funding for the Iraq War and other initiatives (HR 2206) advanced despite the opposition of 61 percent of House Democrats, including Pelosi, D-Calif.

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Abortion: legislative techniques post-Gonzales v Carhart

An interesting piece from McClatchy (ex-KR) on the possible effects of Gonzales v Carhart (the SCOTUS decision on the Federal partial birth abortion law) in expanding the constitutional scope for state and Federal collateral antiabortion legislation.

The piece quotes Justice Kennedy's majority opinion:

The state's interest in respect for life is advanced by the dialogue that better informs the political and legal systems, the medical profession, expectant mothers and society as a whole of the consequences that follow from a decision to elect a late-term abortion.

and provides this comment:
"I think that this means that a vast array of regulations are likely to be upheld," Duke Law School Professor Erwin Chemerinsky predicted. "Certainly this will embolden states to adopt more laws regulating abortions."

(Chemerinsky is joint author (with his wife) of the key article on the Senate filibuster.)

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Farm bill: process event of the year?

I missed the first week of House Ag's markup of the farm bill, what with the old laptop going phut, and battling Vista on the new one.

But - there's every indication that the bill's progress through Congress will be a thoroughly educational experience.

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Dem Iraq strategy: further thoughts

Way back on April 3, I gave an appreciation of where we were then with Iraq legislation, with a brief rundown of the story so far. Referring to the Murtha Proviso (once much loved before it picked up a presidential waiver proviso), I said

The main purpose of the Proviso (and the provisions current in the two versions of HR 1591) can only have been to draw a veto and trigger an inter-branch crisis: to wield the power of the purse and bring Bush to the negotiating table.

There would - this is still my interpretation - have been the most public of confrontations, quite different from the kind of connoisseurs-only stuff we've enjoyed so far. The public - the same public now wanting to get out of Iraq - would be put on the spot: back the Dems, who were trying to give them their wish, or go for business as usual with Bush.


Window-dressing apart, there only has ever been one choice to make: to confront Bush (as per the quote) or to give in.

Essentially, all the Congressional activity to date has been window-dressing. Which is not to say that it's been worthless: the Dems are the majority and have to be seen to do something. Hence the placeholder nonbinding resolutions - remember those? - and the long drawn out action on HR 1591, the bill doomed to be - made to be - vetoed.

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Iraq fiasco: don't blame Slaughter!

Finally, I'm back in the land of the living, netwise - and perplexed as ever.

So I'll slip back gently (!) into the swim with the dispute over the rule (H Res 438) under which HR 2206 was last brought to the floor.

So far as I can see, Sirota had it exactly right:  the rule was a device to enable the majority of Dem reps to vote against the blank check without the bill being in any danger of not passing!

(Because giving Bush his clean bill (with just the waiveable Warner Iraqi government benchmarks) was essential in enabling the Dem leadership to get rid of the FY07 Iraq albatross (it has cousins!))

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Trade deal malarkey - cockup or conspiracy?

(My laptop is buggered, and I've just had half an hour online to get updated. So this is more than a tad scrappy. But - gotta keep my hand in...)

Sirota's latest from early this am ET is here:

http://www.workingassetsblog.com/2007/05 /secret_trade_deal_day_12_range.html

The key point at which alarm bells ought to have rung, I think, was when we discovered that, after a couple of days of screaming for legislative language, we found there wasn't any.

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Iran war amendments and the veto

In short order, the FY08 defense authorization bill HR 1585 has cleared the House.

On Iran, there were two amendments that failed, DeFazio and Andrews.

DeFazio required prior Congressional authorization for war against Iran (except following an attack by Iran on US territory or forces); and Andrews barred funds authorized by the bill from being used to plan a war against Iran.

DeFazio lost 136-288 (according to the House site: with 13 no-votes, and with Pelosi not voting (as is usual for the Speaker), that makes 438 House members - that's just a little bit more than the Constitution will allow).

And Andrews lost 202-216 with 19 no-votes. (That also makes 438 reps in all: did they give DC statehood already?)

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War on the House floor?

In anticipation of the new Congress, I kinda-sorta adopted the motion to recommit as my pet parliamentary maneuver, to see what use the GOP would make of it.

The answer (work the tag) has been, a good deal.

Now, it seems, the Dems are proposing to eliminate the right of the minority to offer a MTR.

(Or, at least, that's what Boehner and friends say they're going to do.)

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Diaries

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