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The Edge

The Edge: Boston Affords Political Cover on Immigration

April 22, 2013

The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.

Boston Affords Political Cover on Immigration

The political punditry has been overthinking how the Boston bombings might impact the prospects for immigration reform. 

 

Put simply, the bombings allow critics to raise the specter of national security when opposing the legislation, putting them on safer political ground. Before the attack, opposition would be painted by supporters as nativist zealotry, set in the context of the GOP’s poor record with Hispanics. Now opponents can point to legitimate concerns over who is admitted.

Will that derail the bill in the Senate? Probably not. But it’s expected to reduce the number of senators supporting reform, and increase the intensity of opposition in the House, where it already faced long odds. It could embolden opponents like Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is emerging as the anti-Marco Rubio on this issue.

The anxiety of gun owners helped sink the background check legislation in the Senate. Will concerns over national security do the same for immigration reform?  That remains to be seen.

Josh Kraushaar
jkraushaar@nationaljournal.com

TOP NEWS

BOSTON BOMBING SUSPECT CHARGED, WILL BE TRIED IN CIVILIAN COURT. As Boston observed a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m. Monday, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon was charged by federal authorities with “using a weapon of mass destruction” which resulted in three deaths, The New York Times reports. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged by federal officials as he lay in bed at a Boston hospital. He could face the death penalty. Meanwhile, The Boston Globe reported that authorities are eyeing a link between Dzhokhar’s deceased brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in an unsolved triple homicide in suburban Boston. Read more

  • The Russian territory of Dagestan, which has bred terrorists and where Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled in early 2012, appears "to have been a way station for a young man whose path began and ended somewhere else," The New York Times reports. Read more

CANADIAN POLICE, U.S. INTELLIGENCE THWART PLOT TO BLOW UP RAIL LINE. Canadian police announced Monday they had arrested two people suspected of plotting a major terrorist attack, Canadian news organization CBC reports. The alleged plotters have been under surveillance by Canadian law enforcement agencies, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security for more than a year. Reuters reports officials said the suspects sought to attack the railroad line between Toronto and New York City. Read more

SENATORS CLASH DURING JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARING ON IMMIGRATION. During a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, took issue with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s, D-N.Y., suggestion that some members were using the Boston Marathon bombings as a pretext to delay a vote on immigration reform, the Associated Press reports. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said during his opening statement: “Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of these two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people.” Grassley responded, “I didn't accuse you of using the Newtown killings as an excuse."  Read more

  • Senate Judiciary Committee members Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, could upend negotiations on immigration reform, Roll Call reports. Read more

IMMIGRATION BILL INCLUDES PROVISIONS TO BENEFIT SENATORS’ STATES. The comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” includes “pet provisions” of the bipartisan group’s members, The Wall Street Journal reports. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., included aid for the cruise ship industry, while Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sought additional visas for the meat industry. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., added 10,500 visas for Irish persons with at least a high school diploma, and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., included a provision to allow ski resorts to hire more foreign ski instructors. Read more

AFFIDAVIT ALLEGES BACHMANN APPROVED INDIRECT PAYMENTS TO IOWA POLITICIAN. The problems for Rep. Michele Bachmann are piling up. Her former chief of staff, Andy Parrish, stated today in an affidavit that the Minnesota Republican and former presidential candidate had approved payments to an Iowa state senator despite state rules barring legislators from being paid by presidential campaigns, National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher reports. Read more

DSCC OUTRAISES NRSC FOR THIRD STRAIGHT MONTH. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, for the third consecutive month, bringing in more than $5.2 million in March, according to figures provided by the committee. The NRSC raised almost $3.2 million for the month. With the $2 million advantage, the DSCC padded what was already a sizable fundraising lead. The committee finished March with $8.4 million cash on hand, while the Republicans had nearly $5.3 million in the bank. For the year, the DSCC has outraised the NRSC, $13.7 million to $6.9 million. Read more

SEQUESTER-RELATED FURLOUGHS CAUSE FLIGHT DELAYS. Commercial air travel was disrupted today by furloughs of air-traffic controllers, a consequence of federal sequestration, The Washington Post reported. Today’s furlough applied to 10 percent of the Federal Aviation Administration’s air-traffic controllers—roughly 1,500 employees—as well as Transportation Security Administration workers, leading to delays at security checkpoints as well as delayed flight departures and arrivals. According to FAA estimates, about one-third of air travel customers will encounter delays during the furlough period, and delays will impact as many as 6,700 flights daily at more than a dozen airports. Read more

STATES COULD HARM RESIDENTS BY REJECTING MEDICAID EXPANSION. States’ rejection of Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act could yield “unintended consequences,” the Associated Press reports. Employers in states that do not expand Medicaid could face additional tax penalties, while legal immigrants in some states could be eligible for subsidized private insurance where citizens remain uninsured. Finally, persons living below the poverty line are only eligible for coverage through Medicaid, while those slightly above it can receive subsidized private coverage, raising questions of fairness. Read more

PETRAEUS AUCTIONING OFF 5K RUN FOR CHARITY. Former CIA Director David Petraeus is participating in a charity auction to benefit The Mission Continues, which provides fellowships to military veterans, The Washington Post reports. Participants can bid on a workout with Petraeus on the National Mall; the package includes airfare and hotel accommodations. Bidders are invited to “Test your physical limits during an intense workout with the man that was once in charge of all U.S. armed forces’ foreign operations before discussing military strategy over a well-deserved coffee.” Read more

WEINER RETURNS TO TWITTER. The social media site was his downfall, now former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., eyeing a political comeback, returned to Twitter on Monday, USA Today reports, by pointing to his 64-point plan to restore the middle class to New York City. Weiner is considering a run for mayor. Read more 

TOMORROW

OBAMA TO MEET WITH EMIR OF QATAR.  President Obama on Tueday will welcome to the White House the emir of Qatar, His Highness Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

ARMY SECRETARY TO TESTIFY ON BUDGET. Budget hearings continue this week, and the Senate and House Armed Services Committees will hear from senior officials about their requests for fiscal 2014 and the threats facing their posts or services. The Senate panel will have seven such hearings. High-profile witnesses include Army Secretary John McHugh and his chief of staff, Gen. Raymond Odierno, on Tuesday.

QUOTABLE

“The president is the kind of person who, the day before the final exam, would open the book, read it, and get an A. The first lady is the kind of person who, the first day of class when they were discussing dissertations, would plot out how to finish hers.” —Senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, in an interview with Esquire.

BEDTIME READING

A STAR PITCHER, THE PROMISE OF A CASH COW BUSINESS, AND A STATE IN NEED OF BUSINESS: WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Impressed by Curt Schilling’s entrepreneurial bravado, star power, and the promise of hundreds of high-paying jobs, the Rhode Island government backed the six-time All-Star pitcher’s video game company, 38 Studios, to the tune of $75 million in bonds, Matt Bai writes for The New York Times. Schilling had a plan to relocate his company to Providence, which local officials thought would be the start of a high-tech corridor to rival that of nearby Cambridge, Mass. But Boston-based venture capitalists had all passed on Schilling’s company for a reason. And roughly two years later, Schilling’s company is in bankruptcy, the building sits empty in downtown Providence, and the government has some difficult choices: “whether Rhode Island can afford to repay the bondholders, or whether it should simply default,” as Bai writes. Lawsuits and counter-lawsuits abound, and nearly all of Schilling’s personal fortune is gone. So what happened? Read more

OVERLOOKED

GEORGE W. BUSH’S RELUCTANT RETURN TO THE SPOTLIGHT. As he readies the dedication of his presidential library later this week, the 43rd president is reemerging into the spotlight, albeit reluctantly, National Journal’s Tom DeFrank reports. Bush’s lifestyle is beyond comfortable—corporate jets and hefty six-figure speeches as often as he chooses; weekly golf rounds (despite a back still healing from disc surgery); ham and cheese souffles at a local bistro; hunting and fishing expeditions; and ministering to wounded U.S. warriors and AIDS victims in Africa. He’s painting, exhibiting a discipline surprising even his closest pals. “Of course he’s confident” about turning around his reputation, one longtime counselor told NJ. “How else could he be? But he’s got a ways to go to mending his record—if it can be done.” Read more

PROFILE AT A GLANCE

Carmen Ortiz

  • Why she is in the news: Ortiz is taking the lead in the prosecution of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Reuters)
  • Current job: U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
  • Age: 57
  • Education: B.B.A., Adelphi University; J.D., George Washington University Law School (Department of Justice)

Career Highlights

  • Tough-nosed reputation, faced criticism for prosecution of internet activist Aaron Swartz, who later committed suicide. (WBUR)
  • Currently leading prosecution of former fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger. (Bloomberg)
  • Focus on terrorism and national security, civil rights, and violent and white-collar crime reduction—encompassing public corruption, finance, and health care fraud.

Of Interest

  • First Hispanic and first woman to represent Massachusetts as U.S. Attorney.
  • Rumored candidate to replace outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick; was rumored candidate for former Sen. John Kerry’s seat (Boston Globe, Boston Herald)
  • Raised in New York City housing project

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