Chad’s Morning Brief: John Boehner and Immigration, Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Dollar Spending Bill While Ted Cruz Stands Alone, and Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of January 17, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
Will Republicans stand strong when it comes to amnesty and immigration? According to the Wall Street Journal the answer is no.
House Republican leaders are preparing for the first time to endorse legal status for many of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, a step that could jump-start the moribund immigration debate.
As early as next week, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and other GOP leaders will release a one-page set of principles outlining how they hope to overhaul the immigration system, people familiar with their plans say. It will stop short of offering the sort of path to citizenship endorsed by the Senate, but represents a major step toward what immigration advocates and Democrats have long sought.
The issue has divided Republicans, forcing House leaders to navigate between GOP forces that oppose anything that looks like amnesty, and others who believe it is both unrealistic and politically foolish to expect illegal immigrants to go home.
Mr. Boehner and his team plan to circulate the principles in hopes of building support among rank-and-file lawmakers, according to people familiar with the plans. The speaker aims to release the document publicly ahead of the State of the Union speech on Jan. 28, when President Barack Obama is expected to renew his call for Congress to pass immigration legislation.
Rep. Lee Terry (R., Neb.), one of many Republicans leaders aim to win over, said House leaders' approach might help win GOP support for an overhaul.
"If it doesn't lead to a pathway to citizenship, I think you will get more people to at least embrace that or be OK with that," he said. But he added: "It will still be a very difficult sell."
It is unclear when Republicans plan to translate their ideas into legislation, or when bills will be put on the floor for votes.
The new move comes as immigration advocates and Republican donors alike have grown frustrated over the House's monthslong delay in addressing the issue. After the 2012 election, Republicans including Mr. Boehner said they supported a broad immigration overhaul, partly in hopes of making the party more attractive to the growing number of Hispanic voters. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in June, but the House has yet to hold a vote.
The new principles will envision a legal process by which illegal immigrants can admit guilt and pay fines and any back taxes, and then gain the right to live and work in the U.S. and travel abroad. It will insist that no legalization provisions take effect until border security and other enforcement measures are in place, people familiar with the draft said.
Unlike under the Senate bill, they will not automatically qualify for citizenship—what detractors call a "special path." But legislation being crafted by Republican lawmakers with the support of House leaders would let newly legalized immigrants apply for legal permanent residence, also known as a green card, using the pathways available to anyone else. Once someone has a green card, he or she is eligible to apply for citizenship.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) has voiced support for such an approach for months. He signaled openness to legalization again in an interview that aired on Telemundo on Sunday. He said that if enforcement measures are in place, he sees "no reason" why illegal immigrants couldn't gain legal status.
Many Republicans have long resisted legalization, and many are expected to continue to oppose it, though it isn't clear how many. "Illegal immigration is a crime and ought to be treated that way," Rep. Tom McClintock (R., Calif.) said Thursday.
The emerging GOP approach also presents a challenge to Democrats, who have said anything short of citizenship is an unacceptable second-class status. On Thursday, several were cautiously optimistic.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) called the GOP move "a very important moment." He said that citizenship is crucial, but "part of the problem here is that the debate has been framed [as] 'Either it's citizenship for all or it's justice for no one.' " He said that he wasn't endorsing the GOP approach but that it might be preferable to the status quo, where thousands of people are being deported each week.
"Any movement in the House is movement I like," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) told reporters.
An estimate of the new House approach by the National Foundation for American Policy, a conservative research group, concludes that between 4.4 million and 6.5 million of illegal immigrants would qualify for green cards and thus have a chance at citizenship. That compares with 8 million under the Senate bill.
Spending Bill Passes
The Senate yesterday passed a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill. According to FOX News, the Senate voted 72-26 for the bill which passed the House on Wednesday. Senator Ted Cruz attempted to have one vote on his amendment to defund Obamacare while funding military pensions, but he had no support from anyone in the Senate.
Congress sent President Barack Obama a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill Thursday, easing the harshest effects of last year's automatic budget cuts after tea party critics chastened by October's partial shutdown mounted only a faint protest.
The Senate voted 72-26 for the measure, which cleared the House a little more than 24 hours earlier on a similarly lopsided vote. Obama's signature on the bill was expected in time to prevent any interruption in government funding Saturday at midnight.
The huge bill funds every agency of government, pairing increases for NASA and Army Corps of Engineers construction projects with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service and foreign aid. It pays for implementation of Obama's health care law; a fight over implementing "Obamacare" sparked tea party Republicans to partially shut the government down for 16 days last October.
Also included is funding for tighter regulations on financial markets, but at levels lower than the president wanted.
The compromise-laden legislation reflects the realities of divided power in Washington and a desire by both Democrats and Republicans for an election-year respite after three years of budget wars that had Congress and the White House lurching from crisis to crisis. Both parties looked upon the measure as a way to ease automatic spending cuts that both the Pentagon and domestic agencies had to begin absorbing last year.
All 53 Democrats, two independents and 17 Republicans voted for the bill. The 26 votes against it were all cast by Republicans.
Shortly before the final vote, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, delivered a slashing attack on Senate Democrats, accusing them of ignoring the problems caused by the health care law. "It is abundantly clear that millions of Americans are being harmed right now by this failed law," Cruz said.
Unlike last fall, when he spoke for 21 straight hours and helped force the government shutdown over defunding "Obamacare," this time he clocked in at 17 minutes and simply asked the Senate to unanimously approve an amendment to strip out Obamacare funding. Democrats easily repelled the maneuver.
The 1582-page bill was really 12 bills wrapped into one in negotiations headed by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., respective chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, and their subcommittee lieutenants. They spent weeks hashing out line-by-line details of a broad two-year budget accord passed in December, the first since 2009.
The bill, which cleared the House on a vote of 359-67, increases spending by about $26 billion over fiscal 2013, with most of the increase going to domestic programs. Almost $9 billion in unrequested money for overseas military and diplomatic operations helps ease shortfalls in the Pentagon and foreign aid budgets.
The nuts-and-bolts culture of the appropriators is evident throughout the bill. Lower costs to replace screening equipment, for example, allowed for a cut to the Transportation Security Administration. Lawmakers blocked the Agriculture Department from closing six research facilities. And the Environmental Protection Agency is barred from issuing rules on methane emissions from large livestock operations.
Another provision exempts disabled veterans and surviving military spouses from a pension cut enacted last month. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, signaled in a brief hallway conversation with The Associated Press that he would oppose a broader drive to repeal the entire pension provision, which saves $6 billion over the coming decade by reducing the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working age military retirees by 1 percentage point.
The National Institutes of Health's proposed budget of $29.9 billion falls short of the $31 billion budget it won when Democrats controlled Congress. Democrats did win a $100 million increase, to $600 million, for so-called TIGER grants for high-priority transportation infrastructure projects, a program that started with a 2009 economic stimulus bill.
Civilian federal workers would get their first pay hike in four years, a 1 percent cost-of-living increase. Democrats celebrated winning an addition $1 billion over last year for the Head Start early childhood education program and excluding from the bill a host of conservative policy "riders" advanced by the GOP.
Rogers won two provisions backed by the coal industry. One would block the EPA and Corps of Engineers from working on new rules on "fill material" related to the mountain top removal mining. Another would keep the door open for Export-Import Bank financing of coal power plants overseas.
Once again Senator Ted Cruz was the only Senator who stood up to defund Obamacare. No other Republicans joined Cruz in wanting to defund Obamacare through this spending bill. Cruz also asked to call up his amendment which would have defunded Obamacare while fully funding cuts made to military pensions. Again, no one stood with him. Politics as usual in Washington it seems.
Other Top Stories:
9:05am- Dan Branch, Republican candidate for Attorney General
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