Giving lawmakers added motivation on immigration

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Giving lawmakers added motivation on immigration
Giving lawmakers added motivation on immigration
Associated Press

Shortly before he left for an eight-day vacation, President Obama hosted a White House press conference and fielded an interesting question about immigration. “Part of the political logic behind immigration reform was the strong showing by Latino voters last November,” NPR’s Scott Horsley said. “That doesn’t seem to resonate with a lot of House Republicans who represent overwhelmingly white districts. What other political leverage can you bring to bear to help move a bill in the House?”

It was a fair question, based on an important premise: when it comes to persuading congressional Republicans, the first argument is electoral. GOP lawmakers need to hear why supporting an idea will generate more votes for them on Election Day. If that argument falls flat, the next argument should be … well, it’s not altogether clear what else congressional Republicans care about.

But if other considerations matter at all to GOP lawmakers, news like this should resonate.

The Senate’s immigration bill would add nearly 14,000 new jobs on average in each congressional district over the next decade, according to a new report.

The new analysis is from the center-right American Action Network (AAN), which backs an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. It’s being distributed to lawmakers’ offices as pro-reform groups seek to convince GOP congressmen to vote for immigration reform proposals this fall.

District-by-district data is available through this web tool. No district would see fewer than 7,000 jobs created by 2023, and an average of 13,992 new jobs would be created in each. The figures were compiled using data from a Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) study of economic data and new worker visas and a Congressional Budget Office report on the impact of the Senate bill.

Remember, the report wasn’t published by Lefty Liberals for Liberalism; it was released by a center-right organization interested in helping Republican officials.

The larger point, of course, is that opponents of immigration reform really don’t have any excuses – and if they’re looking for cover to justify a “yes” vote on a popular, bipartisan bill, they have plenty of it.

As we discussed in July, the Senate produced a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that doubles the border patrol, shrinks the deficit, and boosts economy growth. It enjoys the support of the White House, business leaders, GOP strategists, leaders from the Latino community, and a clear majority of the country.

And now, Republican allies have helped document the expected boost in the job market, too.

Circling back to Scott Horsley’s question at the president’s press conference, electoral consideration don’t seem to “resonate” with radicalized congressional Republicans, but don’t some of them care about jobs, economic growth, deficit reduction, and border security?

As for how reform may yet get across the finish line, Time reported yesterday on one of my favorite subjects.

[T]here may still be a way to resuscitate reform efforts and force a vote on a path to citizenship. It involves a rarely used parliamentary tactic known as a discharge petition.

The legislative practice enables a simple majority of the House to force a vote on a bill, discharging the relevant committee from its responsibility to report it and circumventing the power of leadership, which controls the floor. Discharge petitions are rare. The tactic was successfully employed just 26 times between 1931 and 2002, when it was most recently leveraged to win a vote on the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance-reform bill. But a cadre of progressive activists, including powerful labor groups like the AFL-CIO and the pro-reform organization America’s Voice, have zeroed in on it as perhaps the best way to sidestep Speaker John Boehner’s insistence that any immigration bill brought to the floor have the support of a majority of the GOP conference.

“Certainly if the House fails to pass a bill with a path to citizenship and strong worker protections, then the discharge petition has to be an option for us to pursue,” says Tom Snyder, manager of the AFL-CIO citizenship campaign.

Watch this space.

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Giving lawmakers added motivation on immigration

Updated