Thursday, March 27, 2008

Supporters of the SAVE Act, an immigration-enforcement measure sponsored by Representatives Ben Bilbray (R-CA) and Heath Shuler (D-NC), are currently trying to bring the measure to the House floor via a discharge petition, which goes into effect when it acquires 218 signatures. There are currently 181 members in support of it. This bill has bi-partisan backing (49 House Democrats are co-sponsors), but, so far, only 9 Democrats have signed on. If those 40 other Democratic co-sponsors signed the petition, the measure would clear the 218-member threshold. But Democratic leadership is hostile to having a vote on this measure, fearing its political consequences. This Roll Call story (hidden by subscription wall) has more on the political pressures being exerted both ways. (NumbersUSA has a breakdown of Congressional support for the SAVE Act.)

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi may not be the only one skeptical about this measure. Shuler has recently said that John McCain's been phoning Republicans and telling them not to sign on to the discharge petition; McCain's staff denies it. Krikorian's doubtful about this denial. Hot Air lays out some of the reasons why McCain may be keen on stopping the bill from getting to the floor but also wonders if Shuler's just trying to cause trouble for Republicans.

Shuler may be overemphasizing McCain's (purported) influence a little here. There are currently 198 GOP House members; 172 have signed it, so about 87% of the GOP caucus has already signed on, and some of that outstanding 13% is probably opposed to the SAVE Act even without McCain's (supposed) intervention. Even if 100% of the GOP House signed on, the discharge petition would still need support from 20 Democrats--11 more than currently support it. Granted, maybe if some more Republicans signed on, Shuler might be able to convince a few fence-sitting Democrats to switch. In any case, the petition needs 37 more signatures and will certainly need more support from Democrats to go into effect.