I’m not sure what to make of this:
Democratic leaders are pushing ahead with plans to move comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year — even if it means punting on energy legislation until next Congress.
According to Senate Democratic aides, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed during a Tuesday afternoon meeting that a “moral imperative” exists to move immigration reform in 2010. The decision to press ahead on such a controversial issue now — in an election year — comes even though Democrats have had little success attracting GOP support for their initiatives in the 111th Congress. Hispanic Members have been ramping up the pressure on President Barack Obama to force the issue with Congress.
During the meeting, Reid “reiterated his intention to move forward” this year on immigration reform, one aide said, adding that Pelosi agreed it is a top priority, even beyond energy legislation.
“The Speaker did agree that if faced with a choice between energy and immigration, she’d go with immigration,” the aide said.
A few things don’t really make sense here:
- Senator Reid has been saying about once a month (2/24, 3/22, 4/12) that he plans to move energy/climate legislation this year.
- Five days ago President Obama called climate legislation a foundational priority that has to be done soon.
- The bit about Pelosi saying immigration reform is a higher priority than energy is obviously not true: The House already passed climate/energy legislation last June.
Is this another example of politicians promising something they have no intention of delivering or a trial balloon waiting to be popped?
Update — Senator Graham is already pushing back on this:
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican point man on both immigration and climate control, told reporters that the Senate was not prepared to debate immigration reform this year."I think we ought to take it up next year with the new Congress," Graham said.
Asked why Reid is now pushing it, Graham said, "I think it’s because he is in an election and he has a big Hispanic vote, and they (Democrats) made promises" to revamp immigration laws this year.
It is unclear what would happen to the climate-change legislation if Reid turns to immigration reform, Graham said.
Update 2 — Pelosi aides have begun walking this back:
“The conversation was really about timing, not an either-or kind of thing, but timing,” said the aide, who described the talks as a routine meeting of bicameral leaders.“It is all about what the Senate can move first and pass,” the aide said Wednesday. “Obviously on both of these items – immigration and comprehensive energy and climate legislation — we are waiting on the Senate to act.”
Update 3 — The WSJ pushes the electoral politics angle:
Democrats eyeing the Hispanic voting bloc include Mr. Reid, who faces a tough re-election race in his home state of Nevada, where 15% of voters in 2008 were Hispanic. Democrats running in other states with large Hispanic populations include Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Michael Bennet of Colorado.