Friday, March 30, 2012

Immigration, and the Health Care Debate: Part 2

Roger Algase's blog yesterday asked the question: "What does President Obama's position on health care reform have to do with immigration?" 

An excellent question Roger, because if you recall immigration reform played a key part in the health care debate.  Specifically, the Hispanic Caucus, lead by Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill), threatened to withhold their vote for Health Care Reform because it contained xenophobic anti-immigrant provisions.

His exact words: "I would find it extremely difficult if not impossible to vote for any measure that denies undocumented workers health care purchased with their own dollars."

The good Congressman ultimately pledged his support for the President's signature legislation in return for an empty (and now broken) promise from President Obama that he would meaningfully address immigration reform...  and no, the President's meeting with a pop star and a desperate housewife should not in any way be interpreted as satisfaction of his debt to the Caucus.

As such, immigration reform minded Democrats were deceived into relinquishing their one legitimate bargaining chip to force the President's hand to effectuate an end to the rampant deportations that have hallmarked the Obama Presidency.

In this regard, in the Senate during the lame duck session, five Democrats fillibustered the DREAM Act: Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Montana Democrats, Jon Tester and Max Baucus.  

To add insult to injury, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) skipped the DREAM Act cloture vote to attend a Christmas party.

Merry Christmas DREAMers.

Parenthetically, three Republicans crossed party lines in favor of the DREAM Act, enough to get it through if the Democrats where whipped in line.

So you may ask, what fallout resulted from Freshman Senator Manchin's act of indifference to DREAM? Well, appointments to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Special Committee on Aging of course.

Can you name one Senator that even lost a committee appointment over their failure to vote for DREAM?

I know I can't.

This was the last chance that the Democrats had to get immigration reform through Congress, and they couldn't force unanimity from their members over something as obvious as the DREAM Act.  They certainly got their votes for health care though, by beg, borrowing, and most importantly, stealing from the immigration reform caucus.


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