Senate's Immigration Bill Is Republican Politicians' Worst Nightmare

The Senate is expected this week to pass a guest-worker program along with border enforcement provisions. The combination of these two issues into one bill is guaranteed to maximize political damage to Republicans. The bill’s basic structure will likely maintain the McCain-Kennedy amnesty provisions, with some small modifications. It is less clear what border enforcement provisions it will ultimately contain. Least clear of all is its future in a House-Senate conference, where it could even die. The House-passed version includes no amnesty or guest-worker provision.

Because President Bush has insisted on a “comprehensive” bill that includes both provisions, Republicans will lose this debate no matter what happens. If they fail to pass a bill because of disagreements over the amnesty provision, it will be extremely embarrassing. If they pass a bill that is too lax, they will anger a significant portion of their base. It is highly unlikely that they will pass an enforcement-only bill and take up a separate amnesty bill.

McKinney Trumps National Security Plan

A Democratic “National Security Strategy” was unveiled last week, but the consensus is that the cliché-filled document fell flat. Devoid of creative thinking, it proposes to do almost exactly what the current administration is doing, with a few shots at Bush for “manipulating” intelligence to start the Iraq War.

Not only did it fall flat as a news story, but it was easily superseded as the major story of the day because of one Democratic member’s creation of a major distraction. Democrats are not happy that by assaulting a Capitol Police officer, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) took the news spotlight. With her action and then her refusal to simply apologize and move on, McKinney at least threw the Democrats off-message. Even if the story itself is known and understood only by political junkies and insiders, it prevented constructive news coverage they could have used.

Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry (N.C.) is trying to extend the story’s shelf-life with a resolution commending the Capitol Police.