Immigration and our Executive
In class this week, we spent a good amount of time discussing executive-legislative relations. One of the issues we talked about was presidential influence – how much can the president influence the budget, the agenda, etc. The president seems to be going public with the issue of immigration, calling upon conservatives to push for a vote before the end of the year.
According to the ever-credible Fox news, President Obama is meeting with and appealing to big companies to garner support for a vote to have Boehner bring immigration to a vote in the House. There is worry that by courting these individuals, the president is splitting the conservative party into more moderate and comprising Republicans and more stubborn ones (the hazards of attempting to get something done in Congress).
One of the main players angry with the president on this is top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama). His main complaint is that this incoming non-American labor is taking jobs away from the American people (Sessions’s home state of Alabama has an unemployment rate lower than the national average). He holds sway, however, and is being backed by other leading conservative Senators:
“They wrote in a letter earlier this year to the Congressional Black Caucus that granting legal status to illegal immigrants ‘will likely disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans by making it more difficult for them to obtain employment and depressing their wages when they do obtain employment.’”
These leaders hold a lot of sway in the Senate as their parties leaders. This will make bringing the bill to the floor of the House incredibly hard, knowing that, for House Republicans, their compromises will break party unity.
Additionally, a main proponent for immigration in the House (Florida’s own GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart) is now saying that he does not believe that the House Republicans will be bringing immigration to the floor. Diaz-Balart even extrapolates that, if not voted on by February or March, immigration will not be dealt with by this Congress because of the election cycle. According to the Washington Post, “Diaz-Balart has been deeply involved in bipartisan negotiations over immigration for years now, and is thought to be in touch with House GOP leaders on the issue, so folks involved in the immigration debate pay close attention to what he says.”
If this is not dealt with soon, it will begin to divide the Republican party within Congress further. This separation between conservatives and moderates trying to create (or halt) legislation will effectively continue to hinder the legislative process as a whole, and not just with immigration. And while this may have been instigated by President Obama placing pressure on Republican leaders and CEO’s (he offered up the idea of cutting the deficit by “$850 billion in the first 20 years and grow the economy by about $1.4 trillion over the same period”), executive pressure may be necessary in order for anything to get done in the legislature.