President Obama discusses amnesty with top Democratic lawmakers
In an Oval Office meeting, President Obama met with U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and U.S. Representatives Nydia Velazquez and Luis Gutierrez. During the inner-circle pow-wow the President reiterated his commitment for reaching across the aisle and bringing Republicans together and passing comprehensive immigration legislation.
Obama said in a statement from the White House that the “reform must provide lasting and dedicated resources for border security, while also requiring accountability from both individuals in the U.S. illegally and unscrupulous employers who game the system for their own economic advantage.”
The President also expressed his support for the DREAM Act that Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s has attached to a defense spending bill. During the meeting Obama said he looked forward to signing the DRWAM Act into law. During the President’s tenure in the Senate he cosponsored the DREAM Act as a stand alone piece of legislation.
“The President noted that it is time to stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents, especially when those youth grew up in America and want to serve this country in the military or pursue a higher education they have earned through academic excellence,” the statement read.
Technically 35-year-old people are not considered children and the current language in the DREAM Act would grant a form of amnesty to more than two million illegal aliens who meet the bill’s requirements.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) discussed with the president his ideas for a comprehensive immigration reform bill he plans to bring up in a few weeks. “The President told Senator Menendez that he looks forward to reviewing the bill, noting that he strongly supported the proposal that Senate Democrats outlined earlier this year. The President reiterated that the strength of that proposal was that it was based on the bipartisan framework developed by Senators Schumer and Graham.”
However, after a breakdown in communications and bitter partisan tactics used during the health care debate and the failed stimulus package negotiations the Democrats in the upper and lower houses may have lost any chance of a bipartisan immigration bill. It appears that with less than two months until the heated midterm elections, the president’s partisan politics over the past month will come back to haunt him as Republicans have voiced their unison support for not passing comprehensive immigration reform.
Meanwhile at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala dinner the president wanted those in attendance to understand; “I will not walk away from this fight. My commitment is getting this done as soon as we can. We can’t keep kicking this challenge down the road.”
The president also wanted Hispanics to remember something on November 2; “Don’t forget who is standing with you, and who is standing against you. Don’t ever believe that this election coming up doesn’t matter. … Don’t forget who your friends are.”
Those are dramatic words coming from the president who stands to lose both houses in November.
It is unclear if the Democrats in the House and Senate have the votes necessary to withstand a filibuster.
However after the Oval Office meeting Rep. Gutierrez says they have 218 votes to get the job done
“I think the White House, the Democrats, and the allies that support serious immigration reform are going on offense and the President is our quarterback,” Gutierrez said. “I have been pushing hard to get us all pointing in the same direction on this issue and now with the White House standing with us and the Senate poised to act, I think we are seeing that effort begin to bear fruit. There are at least 218 votes in the House to pass the DREAM Act. The House is ready to act. We call on the Senate to pass the bill.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who is in the fight for his political life said on Tuesday “that there would be a clean up or down vote on the DREAM Act in the Senate as part of the Defense Department reauthorization bill in the coming week or two.”
Another topic of discussion at the White House included the 400,000 deportations taking place this year and the Democratic lawmakers encouraged the president to concentrate on only serious violent criminals because they felt deportations were tearing families apart.
“This was a big day, a big week and the next couple of weeks will be a turning point for immigration reform,” Rep. Gutierrez said. “We know the clock is ticking, we know Republicans are being pressured to say ‘no’ to everything – including sensible Democratic solutions that solve big national problems – but we also know the country wants and needs a secure, legal, and fair immigration system that protects and serves the American people and strengthens the economy. Getting a vote on the DREAM Act is a step in that process that could help a lot of very talented young people achieve their American Dream.”
Former presidential candidate and current Arizona Senator John McCain said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren, that he objected to the DREAM Act being placed in a war-spending bill. “It may have merits or demerits depending on how you look at it. But to put it on a defense bill? And so it’s really his effort to get re-elected,” he said. “And he’s doing that at the expense of this legislation, which is about the men and women who are serving in the military. It’s really remarkable.”
Agreeing with embattled Senator McCain was Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). “The American people want immediate border security and meaningful reform, not amnesty. They are sick and tired of the backroom deals and scheming in Washington – and that’s exactly what this is. Attaching this non-related bill to the Defense Appropriations bill is the oldest trick in the book. If you can’t pass it on its own, then attach it to something that will. This is an insult to democracy and the American public will not be fooled. Bring the bill before Congress as a stand-alone bill and let’s debate it. This issue is too important to be playing procedural tricks.”
One thing is certain the “summer of recovery” fell flat and the American people are voicing their concerns at the ballot box. Incumbent has become a scarlet letter and politicians who have spent decades in Washington are being show the door. The cynicism that plays out in both houses of the legislative body has finally met its match- the American voter.
With 46 days until the midterm election one thing is certain- career politicians beware.