Thursday, July 12, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Reid angrily dismissed another bipartisan effort would require Bush to develop a comprehensive plan based on the Iraq Study Group's recommendations. Under that amendment, the White House would be free to adjust timetables for the removal of U.S. combat forces and the transition of the mission to training and counterterrorism.
Reid said the amendment "doesn't have the teeth of a toothless tiger."
Is this "effort" the Salazar amendment? Does this dismissal mean that Reid won't back the measure to come up for a vote?
UPDATE: Well, according to this new WaPo story, Reid is talking about the Salazar plan:
But although Alexander and Salazar have more than a half-dozen sponsors in each party, their plan was under assault from both Democrats and the White House. Reid derided the idea as weak, saying "it doesn't have the teeth of a toothless tiger."
The Pentagon will cut the number of soldiers assisting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency from 6,000 to 3,000, following a surge put in place by President George Bush last year to help combat illegal immigration and the drug trade.
President Bush initiated "Operation Jump Start" which put a mostly volunteer force along the 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico. The troops helped take care of administrative duties, freeing up Border Protection agents to keep vigil and make arrests.
UPDATE: Seven R's voted in favor of the Webb amendment; according to the Washington Post, R supporters are
Hagel [(NE)], Snowe [(ME)], and Sens. Norm Coleman (Minn.), Susan Collins (Maine), Gordon Smith (Ore.), John Sununu (N.H.) and John Warner (Va.).UPDATE: In other amendment news, Sen. Snowe (R-ME) is now a co-sponsor of the Levin-Reed troop withdrawal amendment. She had seemed leaning in the direction of this proposal yesterday.
Mark Pryor (D-AR), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Robert Casey (D-PA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), John Sununu (R-NH), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Pete Domenici (R-NM), and Bill Nelson (D-FL).However, it seems as though some Republicans (including Sen. Cornyn [R-TX]) are skeptical of this alternative or any calls for change in policy until the president offers his report on Iraq in September. Meanwhile, Sens. Lugar (R-IN) and Warner (R-VA) are working on a proposal that will be revealed after the president offers an interim report on progress in Iraq by July 15.
While Senate Republicans have shown some levels of division in approaches to Iraq policy, Senate Democrats have shown some divisions, too, with Majority Whip Durbin (D-IL) predicting that the Senate will be unable (contrary to the wishes of some Democrats) to force deadlines for a total end to Iraq military operations--at the moment, at least. And Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) has apparently not yet decided if he will support a vote on the Salazar amendment.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
A week after Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., John Thune, R-S.D., and 15 GOP co-sponsors proposed to enact a law mirroring a ban approved by the House, the senators hope instead to add the language to an Iraq war appropriations bill now on the Senate floor. A press conference to announce the plan is slated for Wednesday.
A debate and vote on the Fairness Doctrine amendment could take place by week’s end. The Senate today was locked in what could be a long debate on Iraq war-related amendments that could delay consideration of other amendments to the bill.
However, this story seems a little unclear--to me at least. Will this proposed bill merely deny funding to the FCC to implement the "Fairness Doctrine" for the next financial year (as the amendment passed in the House stipulated), or will it permanently ban the FCC from implementing the "Fairness Doctrine" (as the "Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2007"--proposed last month by Coleman, DeMint, and Thune among others and which is not yet passed--would stipulate)? The language of those paragraphs above makes it sound like maybe the former, but we'll see tomorrow for sure.
REID: I think it's going to very, very difficult to deal with immigration this year. It won't be dealt with this year.
What I'd like to do is there are certain parts of that immigration bill that I think are very essential. The agricultural workers bill is extremely important. It was part of our overall bill. The DREAM Act is important. I'd like to do that.
So maybe what we could do before the end of the year is do some pieces of immigration. But coming here for another immigration debate on everything, it won't happen this year. Maybe next year; likely it won't happen until we get another president.
Monday, July 9, 2007
In evident pain and remorse, a Republican Senator confessed to a Hispanic group from Maryland that his vote to kill immigration reform was "a profile in political cowardice."Now who could this (male) senator be?
UPDATE: Levin's office informs me that the amendment text will be different than that of the draft mentioned above. The new Levin-Reed will be unveiled tomorrow.
CORRECTION: It's "Levin-Reed" (not "Levin-Reid," which was an earlier amendment on Iraq). Sorry about that.
A bigger threat to businesses could come from the federal government. Business groups had urged the Department of Homeland Security to wait for immigration reform legislation before it issues a final regulation outlining what steps businesses should take when they receive letters notifying them that an employee's name and Social Security number don't match federal records. Now that Congress has punted on the issue, the department may soon implement that regulation, immigration attorneys predict.
As proposed last summer, businesses who receive these "no match" letters should follow certain steps, such as checking the accuracy of their own records and notifying the employee of the problem. If the discrepancy can't be resolved within two months, the employer must fire the employee or risk being charged with violating immigration laws.
The regulation won't "let people ignore problems that have stared them in the face before," Smith said.
Many workers who have been using fake Social Security numbers will lose their jobs, but "they're not just going to pack up their bags and go back to Mexico," Reiff said.
Many will stay in the United States and work in the underground economy instead, she predicted.
Employers should prepare for increased federal enforcement of immigration laws by going through the I-9 forms that workers fill out when they're hired and see if there are any obvious problems, Smith said. Employees whose Social Security numbers don't match federal records should be told to resolve the problem "or we've got to say adios," she said.
Does anyone have any more information about this rule--like will DHS actually implement it (and when might this decision be coming down), and will it actually change the behavior of businesses?
Students at the University of Denver plan to release a video game called Squeezed, created with a grant from mtvU and Cisco Systems and designed to raise empathy for migrant laborers. The player takes the form of a tree-hopping, bandana-wearing frog who leaves home to seek work abroad as a fruit picker.And "immigration" isn't the only issue video games can explore. This story also mentions "Darfur is Dying" (also sponsored by mtvU), which attends to life in a refugee camp. A number of these games are available online for free, too, so you can check them out. I've tried my hand at "Darfur is Dying," and the game play is pretty straightforward (even if the subject matter is--understandably--grim).
The fruit is squeezed into juice for the virtual economy, and the frog can either spend his juice earnings on himself or send them to family members back home. If relatives don't receive enough juice, they send bad news, the frog's "despair" meter rises and he picks less fruit.
Along with mtvU and Cisco, a number of other foundations support further research into and use of games as a political resource and teaching tool:
The MacArthur Foundation recently awarded a $1.1-million grant toward the development of a school in New York that would use games to teach core subjects. Through so-called serious video games, students can role-play and solve problems, said Connie Yowell, the foundation's director of education.I know Thoreau once said that "all voting is a sort of gaming," but I don't know if he had this in mind...
"Games can be a prototype for curriculum in the 21st century," she said.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
She said the immigration issue is difficult because “We have to have a secure border and out country has not had to deal with that before,” Hutchison said. “Because we have always had a camaraderie with Canada and with Mexico and we’ve kind of gone with the flow but we can’t do that any more.
“We can’t do that because we know now that we have terrorists coming in and we have drug cartels coming in ... and then you have the illegal immigration problems, the people who are coming over to work and they aren’t criminals and they aren’t terrorists.”
Hutchison said the United States must develop a program that allows people to come here to work.
“So I am going to continue to try to have an immigration program that has three components, secure border ... a guest worker going forward that provides for businesses in our country that have jobs that are unfilled,” Hutchison said. “As I talk to businesses that are food processing, or restaurants or hotels, farmers or ranchers, they want to have a legalized process by which they can get workers because they are short-handed right now.
Hutchison said the third part is finding a way to “deal with the 12 million people who are here, and that’s been the hardest part. I think we can solve one and two because the hard part is to deal with the people who are here illegally that says we are not going to have amnesty; we are not going to have a closing our eyes to illegal immigration. ... I think we can deal with the people who are here if we have settled the other two issues.”
She said she thinks Congress will have to keep working on this. She explained that she didn’t vote for the recent bill because it did contain amnesty provisions.
Over the past 30 years, however, the bar for cloture has been lowered:
Cloture emerged in 1917 as a way to limit filibusters, the tactic by which senators use their rights of unlimited debate to delay or block legislation.
President Woodrow Wilson, frustrated by a 23-day filibuster that stalled his proposal to arm merchant ships in World War I, called a special session to consider a cloture proposal.
The Senate, he said, is "the only legislative body in the world which cannot act when its majority is ready for action. A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible."
The resulting rule held that if two-thirds of the Senate's 100 members agreed, debate on a measure could end and a vote on passing or rejecting the proposal could take place after each senator had an opportunity to speak for another hour.
The high bar for cloture meant it was seldom used and almost never successful. Senate historians say cloture was invoked in only five cases over the next 46 years.
Cloture rules have been revised a number of times, most significantly in 1975. That is when the threshold for ending debate was lowered from two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators, to three-fifths, or 60. In 1986, the cap for debate after cloture was shortened, from 100 hours to 30 hours.And cloture's being invoked a lot more. The Senate of the 104th Congress (1995-97) set a record of 82 cloture votes. Many estimate that the present Senate is on track to surpass this record.
This story, in its mention of the Senate as being "ungovernable," may show a slightly Beltway emphasis on the importance of passing legislation--no matter what (e.a.):
But didn't the Founders favor a bicameral legislature partially because that structure could obstruct bills and make them slightly more difficult to pass? Obviously, they wanted government to have some capability for vigorous action--indeed, they in part called the Constitutional convention because they did not think the Articles of Confederation allowed for a very effective government--but would they necessarily be that displeased on principle if the Senate, which was intended to be insulated from popular winds anyhow, prevented some bills from being passed? After all, by some theories, making bills more difficult to pass also makes bad bills more difficult to pass and, perhaps, makes it slightly more likely that, in coping with this difficulty, proponents of a given bill will have to make it as "strong" as possible in order to get it to pass--and making bills difficult to pass can also make it structurally harder for government to legislate to itself overwhelming power. Though this Post story calls the Senate "ungovernable," couldn't the seeming intractability of the Senate be in fact a virtue of the government from the Founders' perspective? (As George Washington is reputed to have said to Thomas Jefferson: as we put tea in a saucer to cool it, we put the bills of the House in the Senate to "cool" public passions.) Of course, the Founders could be wrong...
"It's the only way to manage the floor," said Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley. "The alternative is to do nothing, and that's absolutely unacceptable."
Besides, [former Senate Majority Leader] Mitchell [(D-ME)] said, campaigning on a theme as obscure as a slew of failed cloture votes would be a tough feat.
"The public's view is, 'You're in charge _ you produce,' " he said. "If you don't produce, it's your fault _ even if it's the other guys who prevented you."