House Republicans aren’t even considering an actual immigration reform bill — just a one-page document with a bunch of somewhat vague principles — and already folks on all sides are showering lawmakers with memos to sway opinion.
Alabama’s Sen. Jeff Sessions, an outspoken critic of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill, has been working behind the scenes to discourage his Republican counterparts in the House from tackling reform. He distributed a memo to fellow Republicans before the House GOP retreat this week. It declares that “Republicans must end the lawlessness — not surrender to it.” The 30-page document has a “fact vs. myth” section and includes “objective polling data — not misleading polls from special interests.”
Those wanting reform have been passing out their own memos. FWD.us, the pro-immigration reform group backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, has sent a document to all House Democrats and Republicans, including those huddled at their annual retreat, a FWD.us spokesman confirms. And that memo slams some groups as “anti-immigrant” that are “reflexively opposed to any attempt to fix our broken immigration system.” It refers to “hateful rhetoric, extreme views, and blatant falsehoods.”
“We’re encouraged that House Republicans have put forth draft principles to guide their approach to immigration reform and want to make sure all members have polling, research, and relevant resources in the coming weeks as they work to craft legislation,” the FWD.us spokesman said in a statement. “Relevant resources includes factual information that many of these members may not have about the origins and real motivations of some of the loudest anti-immigrant groups.”
FWD.us was founded in 2013 in an effort to bolster the prospects of comprehensive immigration reform, and it spent $600,000 on lobbying.
While outside groups and even senators will have a measure of influence over what members in the House end up doing on immigration reform, they’re not the ones actually casting the votes. Perhaps the most telling signal of the upcoming House debate can be found in the reactions to the GOP draft principles from members of House Democratic leadership. Simply put, they’re not shutting the door on Republicans.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said her caucus “welcomes” the release of their draft, which excludes a pathway to citizenship and instead calls for legalization. “As Republicans unveil more specifics of their legislation, we hope we can find common ground with our Democratic principles — to secure our borders, protect our workers, unite our families, and provide an earned pathway to citizenship,” she said.
So, sure, they have their differences, but Pelosi’s remarks are a world away from those of people like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who called the draft “a flimsy document that only serves to underscore the callous attitude Republicans have toward our nation’s immigrants.”
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“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).
President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.