White House Won't Touch RNC Measure On

The Republican National Committee is poised to officially break with the President, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), and its own national chairman by enacting a resolution coming out foursquare against any measure that provides legal residency for illegal immigrants in the U.S.  The measure, which so far has 47 co-sponsors among the 169-member RNC, is expected to be enacted on Friday when the party’s governing body holds its summer meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Should it receive the blessings of the RNC’s Resolutions Committee on Thursday and then be endorsed by the full committee the next day, the resolution would, in effect, put the national Republican Party on record against measures such the Administration-backed comprehensive immigration package that died in the Senate last month.

When I asked whether the Administration would lobby against the RNC resolution at today’s briefing for White House reporters, Press Secretary Tony Snow told me: “No, this is a resolution that, as I gather, has 47 sponsors, which is less than a third of the membership of the RNC. There is some question about whether it is directly at odds with administration policy.

“The President defends his belief that comprehensive reform is the way to go, and furthermore, that the immigration problem is not going to go away. He certainly would — we’ve talked about the importance of dealing with border security — I don’t think the people who write the resolution disagree with that — of trying to identify those who are here illegally, of trying to find ways of making employers accountable, and also coming up with a reasonable list of who’s here and who’s not; to find more aggressive ways to kick out those who have broken the laws. All of those are things on which people agree. So I think what our message is, is let’s work constructively and get stuff done.”

“So you’re opposed to the measure?” I pressed Snow.

“I’m not going to comment on the measure,” replied  the President’s top spokesman, “ I think at this point what you’re talking about is a measure that has minority sponsorship, but on the other hand, look, it’s a sign of health in a political party when people do disagree. They’re going to be able to hash it out.”

In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS, resolution sponsor and Arizona Republican Chairman Randy Pullen interpreted Snow’s response as “meaning that the White House is not getting on either side of the resolution because they think it will win.”  (RNC Chairman and Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a vigorous proponent of the legislation that died in the Senate, is expected to come out with a strong statement opposing the Pullen resolution.)

“The resolution’s pretty straightforward,” Pullen told me, noting that it calls on Congress to make completion of extending the fence along the Southwest border “a matter of the highest priority” and to secure the border using “every appropriate additional means. . .” 

As to why he wants to introduce a measure sure to be interpreted in the media as a swipe at the lameduck President, Pullen said “because so many people came away from the debate [on the failed Senate measure] feeling that the federal government is incapable of solving one of its principle problems — namely, securing the border of a sovereign nation.”

Pullen recalled how he had introduced a similar measure at the RNC’s winter meeting in January of ’06 and it was watered down after then-White House Political Director Sara Taylor had a private breakfast with several RNC members urging them to tone down the toughly-worded proposal.  Two of those who supported the watering down of the Pullen measure in ’06, Michigan State Party Chairman Saul Anuzis and Georgia Republican National Committeeman Alec Poitevant, are now strongly in favor of the Arizonan’s current resolution, Pullen told me.

“And there will be no watering down of this one,” he predicted.

So far, the Pullen measure has the backing of 14 state chairmen from all regions of the U.S. One chairman who is not a co-sponsor but told me he will vote for it is Colorado’s Dick Wadhams.

“I’ve personally always felt it was the proper way to deal this issue — securing the border and enforcing current laws,” said Wadhams, adding that the Administration-backed legislation killed in the Senate was “a monstrosity.”