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The Edge: House to Senate: You Go First on Immigration The Edge: House to Senate: You Go First on Immigration

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The Edge: House to Senate: You Go First on Immigration

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.

House to Senate: You Go First on Immigration


It was the congressional version of Fight Club: a bipartisan group of lawmakers working in secret to draft immigration reform legislation. It closely guarded the membership, kept the bill locked down, and did not talk about it, for fear the controversial reforms would cause its members, particularly Republicans, political problems. For years, they waited for the right time to dust it off.

So when immigration reform gained bipartisan momentum after the election, this group came out of the shadows and GOP House Speaker John Boehner said the group basically had a deal. The House had an opportunity to lead.

But that’s not going to happen.


Sure, the House will likely hold hearings and markups, and maybe even offer the bipartisan bill, but they’re not going first. House Republican leadership thinks immigration will likely fail in the Senate, and they’re not wild about the idea of making their members take a politically tough vote only to have reform die.  

So despite being light years ahead of the Senate, the House is unlikely to lead.

—Chris Frates


POLL: AMERICANS STRONGLY SUPPORT IMMIGRATION REFORM. Fully 72 percent of Americans support a “path to citizenship” that would allow undocumented immigrants a chance to become legal residents, according to a new Gallup Poll. In addition, 71 percent agreed that the number of visas given to high-skilled foreigners should be increased; 68 percent favored beefed-up border security; and 85 percent agreed that employers should be required to verify that new hires are living in the United States legally. Read more

  • Add evangelical Christians to the list of groups coming around to support immigration reform, Politico reports. In the past, evangelicals have largely opposed reform, but newfound support from groups like Focus on the Family, the conservative Liberty University, and the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed may help Republicans support a deal.

RUBIO TO DELIVER REPUBLICAN RESPONSE TO SOTU. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will deliver the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address on Feb. 12. He will speak in both English and Spanish, according to an announcement from Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “He’ll deliver a GOP address that speaks from the heart to the hopes and dreams of the middle class; to our party’s commitment to life and liberty; and to the unlimited potential of America when government is limited and effective," Boehner said in a statement.  

HOUSE: WE WANT BALANCED BUDGET DATE. The House today passed The Require a Plan Act, a bill that would force President Obama to outline his plan to eliminate the budget deficit and estimate when it would be completed. The vote was mostly partisan, but 26 Democrats supported the legislation. This follows last month’s House-passed No Budget, No Pay Act, which threatened to withhold pay from senators until they passed a budget. Read more

POSTAL SERVICE TO CUT SATURDAY DELIVERY. The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service announced plans to cut Saturday mail delivery beginning in August, a move estimated to save $2 billion annually. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., called it a “common-sense reform” in a letter to House and Senate leaders, according to Politico. House Speaker John Boehner called on Congress to act quickly to enact more far-reaching reform of the agency, The Hill reported. Last year, the Senate passed a bill to overhaul the Postal Service, but the House did not take it up. Read more

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Chock full of usable information on today's issues."

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The day's action in one quick read."

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Great way to keep up with Washington"

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OBAMA NOMINATES REI EXEC FOR INTERIOR. President Obama on Wednesday announced the nomination of Sally Jewell, chief executive of the outdoor retailer REI as Interior secretary.  Jewell is the first female to be tapped for Obama’s second-term Cabinet. Her experience in the private sector and as an outdoor enthusiast has drawn plaudits from conservationists and industry groups. The pick is the latest in a series of high-profile personnel announcements. See National Journal’s list of cabinet positions left to fill and the leading contenders.

CARNEY: NO REPLICA OVAL OFFICE.  A recent report that President Obama would be moving to a temporary oval office in August while the original undergoes renovations is false, press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. "The reports about a replica Oval Office are false, and no one is moving from the West Wing,” Carney said.  “Certainly, no decisions about that have been made." He did say, however, that discussions about upcoming renovations were ongoing. Read more

REPUBLICANS PUSH TO DELAY HAGEL VOTE. Two senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee—Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama—have pushed to delay the committee’s vote on Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel. They charge that Hagel has obfuscated on information regarding his speaking engagements over the past five years, including who was paying him and what he said. Hagel responded in a letter late Tuesday saying he provided all the information he could get and an aide working on Hagel’s nomination said there were no transcripts for some speeches. Read more

  • Committee Chair Carl Levin, D-Mich., maintained through a spokesman that the committee’s vote on Hagel could come as early as Thursday, Foreign Policy reports. Democrats hold a 14-12 edge on the committee.

TAKING DOWN ASHLEY JUDD. In a hypothetical matchup for the 2014 Kentucky Senate race, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell beats actress and humanitarian Ashley Judd by just 4 points—and clearly, that fact has some Republicans worried. An American Crossroads ad released today paints the actress as an Obama-loving radical who is out-of-touch with Kentucky. Judd has not yet decided whether she'll run.

IS LEGALIZATION FLYING HIGH? If two northwest lawmakers have any say in it, it won't just be Colorado and Washington stoners who can come out in the open. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., both proposed legislation on Tuesday that would weaken federal restrictions on marijuana, establishing an excise tax and eventually moving toward the legalization of marijuana at the federal level. Read more

#GEITHNERBOOKTITLES TAKES OFF ON TWITTER. News broke late this morning that former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner plans to write a book about his response to the financial crisis. Within hours, jokes about possible book titles began trending nationwide on Twitter under the hashtag #geithnerbooktitles. See the most hilarious titles here


BRENNAN MAY GET GRILLED ON DRONES. John Brennan will likely face tough questions on drone killings at his Senate confirmation hearing for the post of CIA director on Thursday. Brennan is the chief architect of the administration’s drone program, and the hearing comes just three days after NBC News published a classified memo outlining the legal justification for killing American citizens in drone strikes. Expect pointed questioning from Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, members of the Intelligence Committee who signed a letter to the president on Monday asking for information about the administration’s legal justifications. On Wednesday, Wyden hinted at a filibuster of the nomination, saying he would “pull out all the stops” to get that information. Read more

PANETTA, DEMPSEY TO TESTIFY ON BENGHAZI. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday on the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans. In what is likely Panetta’s official appearance at a hearing, he is likely to field questions about security measures and the army’s immediate response to the attacks. Read more


As Congress debates new gun-control legislation, The New Yorker revisits the bizarre 2010 shooting in Alabama that bucked all conventional norms of mass shootings. As a woman with a Ph.D., stable marriage, and four children, Amy Bishop did not fit the profile of a mass murderer. But there was one mysterious incident from 1986 that was potentially illuminating: Bishop’s accidental gunshot that killed her brother. Read more


"You only get that big plane at the end. The beginning of it, you're in a rent-a-car in Iowa, and New Hampshire, and South Carolina, you're meeting the same 10 people over and over again, and they're still undecided" --Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on the potential grind of a presidential campaign (BuzzFeed).


As yet another sequester deadline looms, the new Washington game is assigning blame for whose big idea it was, anyway. House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, have begun pointing the finger at President Obama for coming up with the idea in the first place, but the cuts have a much more complicated and bipartisan history than Republicans may want to acknowledge. In truth, both sides had bandied about a so-called “trigger” mechanism, and Boehner even described the deal at the time as getting “98 percent of what I wanted.” Read more


John Brennan

  • Why he is in the news: Obama’s nominee for CIA director; his Senate confirmation hearing is on Thursday
  • Current Job: Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
  • Born: Sept. 22, 1955, North Bergen, N.J.

Career Highlights

  • Chief of staff to CIA Director George Tenet
  • Director of the National Counterterrorism Center and deputy executive director of the CIA under George W. Bush

Of Interest

  • Brennan withdrew from consideration for the top CIA post in late 2008 amid a furor over his public support for the use of torture.
  • He took a lead role in planning the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and is the chief architect of the administration’s targeted drone killing program.
  • Despite his role in that program, Brennan is a proponent of transferring drone operations from the CIA to the Pentagon, where they would be subject to greater accountability. (The Washington Post)

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Chock full of usable information on today's issues."

Michael, Executive Director

Concise coverage of everything I wish I had hours to read about."

Chuck, Graduate Student

The day's action in one quick read."

Stacy, Director of Communications

Great way to keep up with Washington"

Ray, Professor of Economics

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