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Editorial: The Hastert Doctrine peril

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  • Editorial: The Hastert Doctrine peril

    Those advocating comprehensive immigration reform are gearing up for hard-nosed negotiations to smooth out differences between an imperfect Senate bill that comes close to the mark and a hideous enforcement-only House bill that can't even see the target.


    And all eyes are on Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the powerful House Judiciary Committee chairman, who was the main sponsor of the House bill, which would make felons of undocumented immigrants. Expected to lead negotiations, he is the man on the House side to convince in the conference committee. But his bargaining chip is really House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois.

    Or, actually, the Hastert Doctrine, which holds that no bill comes to the floor unless it is supported by the majority of the majority. This would be the House GOP's 231-201 majority (with one independent and two vacancies). So even if a bill is supported by Democrats and enough defecting Republicans to ensure passage, it's on life support aborning.

    This less resembles majority rule than it does that irksome kid who gets to call the shots in the game because it's his ball.

    But it's why Sensenbrenner can still talk tough on immigration though it's entirely possible that enough House Republicans would support the Senate's version of immigration reform if it were allowed to the floor.

    The solution to getting some meaningful give from Sensenbrenner and other House conferees is to take away this protection. Instead of trying to get the stubborn Sensenbrenner to change his mind, reform advocates would do better to concentrate on Hastert. This, too, is no small task. But it's better to deal with the kid with the ball.

    Get Hastert to give, and Sensenbrenner will be deprived of a major bargaining chip going into negotiations. He might still have enough clout among House conferees, but at least any argument he'd make that the bill must necessarily be more tough than fair - lest it not even get to the floor - will have been undercut. And the reality will be laid bare: a House GOP minority dictating to a House bipartisan majority that favors comprehensive reform.

    The only way this kind of meaningful reform will emerge from the conference committee is if House conferees are prevented from keeping alive current poison pills or injecting new ones. Among these: criminalizing undocumented presence in this country; gutting a staggered earned legalization process for many, though not all, undocumented workers already here; unraveling the guest worker program; further eroding the number of visas given out each year; and, essentially, doing anything that makes this bill more about enforcement than economic and humanitarian pragmatism.

    The first step is persuading Hastert. We'll say it again. It's better to have no bill at all than one likely to enjoy the fruits of the Hastert Doctrine.

  • #2
    Those advocating comprehensive immigration reform are gearing up for hard-nosed negotiations to smooth out differences between an imperfect Senate bill that comes close to the mark and a hideous enforcement-only House bill that can't even see the target.


    And all eyes are on Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the powerful House Judiciary Committee chairman, who was the main sponsor of the House bill, which would make felons of undocumented immigrants. Expected to lead negotiations, he is the man on the House side to convince in the conference committee. But his bargaining chip is really House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois.

    Or, actually, the Hastert Doctrine, which holds that no bill comes to the floor unless it is supported by the majority of the majority. This would be the House GOP's 231-201 majority (with one independent and two vacancies). So even if a bill is supported by Democrats and enough defecting Republicans to ensure passage, it's on life support aborning.

    This less resembles majority rule than it does that irksome kid who gets to call the shots in the game because it's his ball.

    But it's why Sensenbrenner can still talk tough on immigration though it's entirely possible that enough House Republicans would support the Senate's version of immigration reform if it were allowed to the floor.

    The solution to getting some meaningful give from Sensenbrenner and other House conferees is to take away this protection. Instead of trying to get the stubborn Sensenbrenner to change his mind, reform advocates would do better to concentrate on Hastert. This, too, is no small task. But it's better to deal with the kid with the ball.

    Get Hastert to give, and Sensenbrenner will be deprived of a major bargaining chip going into negotiations. He might still have enough clout among House conferees, but at least any argument he'd make that the bill must necessarily be more tough than fair - lest it not even get to the floor - will have been undercut. And the reality will be laid bare: a House GOP minority dictating to a House bipartisan majority that favors comprehensive reform.

    The only way this kind of meaningful reform will emerge from the conference committee is if House conferees are prevented from keeping alive current poison pills or injecting new ones. Among these: criminalizing undocumented presence in this country; gutting a staggered earned legalization process for many, though not all, undocumented workers already here; unraveling the guest worker program; further eroding the number of visas given out each year; and, essentially, doing anything that makes this bill more about enforcement than economic and humanitarian pragmatism.

    The first step is persuading Hastert. We'll say it again. It's better to have no bill at all than one likely to enjoy the fruits of the Hastert Doctrine.

    Comment


    • #3
      Guys, sensenbrenner is nothing..he can talk all he wants and act like he's the major force that will kill the senate bill..

      The only important guy in the house is Hastert, like ive always said..The comprehensive immigration bill rest on his lapse and we should be encourage that he has never spoken against the bill..

      Althought hastert rule is to not bring a bill unless he has the majority of the majority supporting him, i belive Bush could get him to back off of this subject since it is such an important subject unlike any others.

      Also, Hastert owes Bush a favor to at least put the senate bill on the house floor since Hastert was able to convince Bush to freeze the documents that was taken in congreeman jefferson office, to be sealed...Hasrter has always been there to push Bush's agenda and i belive he will pay Bush pack by telling Hard liners that he wants this bill to get a vote on and is willing to scartch his doctrine for it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Instead of trying to get the stubborn Sensenbrenner to change his mind, reform advocates would do better to concentrate on Hastert. This, too, is no small task. But it's better to deal with the kid with the ball.
        -----

        I could not have said it any better..Let sensenbrenner pop off his mouth..lets concentrate on Hastert..This is who people needs to lobby.

        Comment


        • #5
          Getting hastert to move off his own doctrine will be something he might not want to do because of prestige, but i really believe that if Bush push him hard enought, and make him understand that immigration is too important to the country for him to worry about keeping alive his own prestige..

          Lets cross our fingers..

          Again, the positive thing about all this is,hasterts has never spoken against comprehensiveimmigration and he usually support the president when it comes to pushing an agenda.

          Comment


          • #6
            Sensenbrenner is a tough congressman. The only person that can persuade him, in my personal opinion, is the GOP majority, not the president. I am hoping he will agree to some compromise in the conference. Remember The Real ID act? He is really hard to negotiate but the president got what he wants as well as Sensenbrenner's. I don't think a person like James Sensenbrenner is a suitable to be placed as a chairman of House Judiciary Committe. His toughness is a way too partisan.

            Jean, do you who has more power in the house for this immigration bill ; The speaker, majority leader, or the House Judiciary Committe Chairman??

            Comment


            • #7
              Dennis Hastert has the last say on whether the bill goes in the house for a vote...It doesnt really matter whether sensenbrenner wants it or not.

              I also heard from a source that Hastert told sensenbrenner that it is imperative to get a bill come out of the house-senate bill so that they can vote on this and that people should get a chance to vote for it or against it..Ive heard that Hastert is against the " no bill it better then any bill".

              Now this is from a source, which states that Hastert also convinced sensenbrenner to attend the house senate meeting..In case you didnt know, senssenbrenner had alsways said that he would not even go into any meeting with would discuss the senate immigration bill, but now, it seem that he will indeed try to make a deal.

              Thats a start.

              Comment

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