House Leadership Dooms Immigration Bill
House Speaker Denny Hastert and Majority Leader John Boehner have taken a decision that almost certainly means there will be no immigration bill passed by this Congress. Yesterday the leadership announced that House committees will hold a series of "field hearings" around the country during Congress' August recess ... meaning that a House-Senate conference to reconcile the different bills passed by each chamber wouldn't be able to begin work until September - i.e. right before things ramp up for election time. Coverage of this can be had from the NYTimes, WaPo, LATimes, or pick your favorite.
Majority Whip Roy Blunt suggested that with this new timetable, final debate on immigration policy might come after the election, when Congress remains in lame-duck session - but this seems a poor alternative, if not completely unlikely.
The president's spokespeople said yesterday that Bush will continue to push for a comprehensive bill along the lines of that passed by the Senate. Such a bill would almost certainly pass the House with the support of many Democrats and a fair number of Republicans. However, the leadership's misguided and polarizing "majority of the majority" requirement continues to hobble the House unecessarily. There is no good reason for this delay (don't be fooled by the "we want to know what you think" claptrap the leadership is spouting), and both the White House and the Senate should push back hard against this maneuver. It's time for the negotiators to sit down and get it done.