Repub­li­cans gird for com­ing tough fight over amnesty for il­le­gal aliens

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Charles Hurt

Sen. Jon Kyl said on Nov. 13 that aRepub­li­can-led­fil­i­buster­wouldbe on­thetable­to­blockim­mi­gra­tionleg­is­la­tion sup­ported by con­gres­sional Democrats and Pres­i­dent Bush that grants cit­i­zen­ship rights to il­le­gal aliens.

“It­would­beinorder,”theAri­zona Repub­li­can­tol­dra­dio­hostLau­raIn­gra­ham. “My only ques­tion is whether we’ve got the votes to do it.”

Thecom­mentshigh­light­thedeep di­vide be­tween most con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans and the White House over­an­ex­plo­sive­po­lit­i­calis­sue.And, com­ingfromtheNo.4Repub­li­canin thecham­ber,thetoughtalk­sug­gests the fi­nal two years of Mr. Bush’s pres­i­den­cy­could­see­height­ened­bel­liger­ence from both Democrats and Repub­li­cans on Capi­tol Hill.

“Thi­sisatrou­blingsign,”saidJim Man­ley, spokesman for Demo­cratic leader Harry Reid of Ne­vada. “I hope the pres­i­dent will work with Democrats on the Hill to pass bi­par­ti­san, com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion-re­form leg­is­la­tion early next year.”

Though Mr. Kyl in­di­cated he would sup­port a fil­i­buster, he’s not con­fi­dent­thathe­and­hisal­li­escould se­cure the 40 votes nec­es­sary to block the im­mi­gra­tion leg­is­la­tion that passed ear­lier this year. The leg­is­la­tion­givesil­le­galalien­sadi­rect path to cit­i­zen­ship and al­lows them to­col­lec­tSo­cialSe­cu­ri­ty­ben­e­fits­for the work they’ve per­formed.

“I would cer­tainly hope that the ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate­would­not­be­com­plic­it­in­pass­ing leg­is­la­tion that is not wise, that, for ex­am­ple, would put ev­ery­body on a path to cit­i­zen­ship and say that tem­po­rary work­ers get to get U.S. cit­i­zen­shipand­soon,”he­said.“Clearly, a ma­jor­ity of the Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate don’t want that kind of leg­is­la­tion, but whether we’ve got 40 votes, I’m just not sure.”

In May, 36 sen­a­tors op­posed the leg­is­la­tion. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of them were Repub­li­cans. In the Nov. 7 elec­tions, four of those op­po­nents lost their seats. Only one sup­porter of the bill — Ma­jor­ity Leader Bill Frist of Ten­nessee, who is re­tir­ing — will be re­placed by a Repub­li­can who might join those op­posed to the bill.

With only 32 or 33 mem­bers op­posed­totheleg­is­la­tion,afil­i­buster­at­tempt seems un­likely to suc­ceed. EvenifMr.Bush­w­ere­tove­tothe­leg- is­la­tion,there­would­bee­noughSe­nate sup­port to over­ride it.

All hope among tough op­po­nents of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion rests with the House, where Repub­li­cans main­tained a hard line against any leg­is­la­tion with even a hint of amnesty in it. Democrats picked up some 30 seatsinthe­elec­tions,but­many­ofthe new Democrats are from con­ser­va­tive ar­eas and are op­posed to amnesty.

The chal­lenge would be for Repub­li­can lead­ers to pick off enough of those con­ser­va­tive Democrats to over­come broad sup­port among most in the cau­cus.

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