Capital Briefs: May 21-25

IMMIGRATION DEAL STRUCK: Senators Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.) and John McCain (R.-Ariz.) announced that a Senate bipartisan immigration deal was finally made last Thursday after months of negotiations. (At press time, the general outline, but few details, had been revealed.) The proposed plan contains an amnesty provision that will permit illegal aliens to obtain legal status that will allow them to work inside the United States, but not give them a path to citizenship, and a guest-worker program that will allow U.S. employers to annually import hundreds of thousands of low-skilled foreign workers to compete with American workers. If an illegal alien wishes to become a legal resident, the plan directs illegal aliens to obtain a “z visa,” pay fees, pay a $5,000 fine and return to their home country. This new path to permanent residency is expected to take between eight and 13 years. Supporters of the new bill also claim that the plan will drastically change the “point system” for immigrants so that the system favors highly skilled workers instead of favoring “chain migration” for immigrants with family ties inside the United States.

Rep. Ed Royce (R.-Calif.) roundly criticized the plan, calling it a “mockery of the rule of law” and saying that “the Senate bill will provide amnesty to those here illegally, no matter how the senators spin the issue.” He warned that the amnesty will be granted to “almost all the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States, plus the millions who will most likely surge over the border following this announcement.”

CLIMATE REGISTRY: Thirty-one states recently joined a registry to track greenhouse gas emissions and pledged to start reporting and reducing their emissions. The Climate Registry calls itself “a tool to measure, track, verify and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions accurately, transparently and consistently across borders and industry sectors.” But Myron Ebell, director of Energy and Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the alliance raises constitutional questions. He warned that the Constitution “does not allow the states to engage in agreements between themselves without the express approval of Congress, so on the face of it, these agreements are unconstitutional.” He also indicated that the registry was formed to pressure Congress to take similar action on a federal level, or “energy rationing.” Of the states that joined, 21 are governed by Democrats and 10 are governed by Republicans.

A ‘MITT-TAKE’: Many conservatives think Mitt Romney made a big mistake in last week’s presidential debate when, in response to a question about whether there was any issue on which he had moved from right to middle, the former Massachusetts governor pointed out that he no longer supports abolishing the Department of Education and now is a strong backer of the Bush Administration’s federal education plan, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). “No Child Left Behind is not very popular in my state,” Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams told Human Events, “[Romney] didn’t do himself any favors by bringing this up.” Arizona GOP Chairman Randy Pullen agreed, saying, “It makes no sense to hand money out of the state for education.” One of Romney’s major backers, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R.-Mich.), is the leader of the current movement in Congress to weaken federal controls over education contained in NCLB. “I was disappointed that he used No Child Left Behind as a poster child for where he might be in the Republican mainstream,” Hoekstra told Human Events last week. Hoekstra said that Romney’s statement was “inconsistent with his message that he can’t wait to get his hands on a veto pen to cut waste in government. If you asked Republicans to name the top three programs in which there is waste, 99% of them would probably say the Department of Education.”

SAUL ON PAUL: BAR HIM! Less than an hour after the Republican presidential debate in Columbia, S.C. last week, Michigan State GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis was calling for a petition among the Republican National Committee to bar Texas Rep. Ron Paul from future forums because of his controversial suggestion that U.S. foreign policy caused the 9/11 attack. “It was outrageous,” an angry Anuzis said of Paul’s remarks, adding that he would not invite Paul to the annual Michigan GOP conclave on Mackinac Island with other presidential hopefuls this fall. Other RNC members agreed, with Florida Republican National Committeeman Paul Senft telling Human Events Political Editor John Gizzi: “If Paul blames us for 9/11, disinvite him. We don’t need him. Let him go to the Democrats.”

PELOSI’S POWER GRAB: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) was promptly shut down by House Republicans when she attempted to muffle their right to debate the forthcoming immigration bill. Pelosi tried to change the Motion to Recommit rule, which has been on the books since 1822. The rule allows the minority party to move send a bill back to committee, which can effectively kill it. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R.-Tex.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said, “Such a change would allow House Democrats to more easily raise taxes and increase government spending without being held to account. The move would have marked the first change in the germaneness rule since 1822 and is a direct infringement on the rights of the minority in the House and the Americans they represent.” The Republican Study Committee Floor Action Team, under the leadership of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R.-Ga.), began requesting a series of procedural protest votes every 30 minutes in response to this power grab by the majority, joined Rep. Tom Price (R.-Ga.), another member of the RSC Floor Action Team. After four hours of the protest votes, the rule change was pulled.

MOTOR CITY IMPEACHMENT PLAN: The Detroit City Council unanimously approved a resolution last Wednesday calling for the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The resolution is certain to be noticed in the Nation’s Capital, since Detroit Council President Pro Tempore Monica Conyers, wife of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D.-Mich.), was a major co-sponsor. The Detroit and Michigan Chapters of the far-left National Lawyers Guild, combined with other “citizen activist organizations,” recommended the resolution. The supporters included Veterans for Peace, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the Gray Panthers and

The council’s five reasons for impeaching were: intentional misleading of Congress regarding Iraq, unwarranted electronic surveillance, prisoner torture, indefinite detention of citizens without the right to counsel, and acting in a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President.