Both the House and Senate will be in session this week. Immigration will remain at the forefront of the national discussion, as the House holds hearings on reform proposals. The Senate will consider the wasteful and Unconstitutional reauthorization of the “Violence Against Women Act,” even as they help engender violence against women by pushing them into direct ground combat.
Immigration – Last week, we witnessed the most prominent focus on the issue of immigration since 2007. A gang of 8 senators [Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Robert Menendez] unveiled an amnesty proposal that would grant immediate legal status and a future path to citizenship for virtually all estimated 12 million illegals in the country. Moreover, it would provide an expedited path for several million children of illegal immigrants as well as thousands of agricultural workers.
The main point of contention revolved around the enforcement mechanism. Marco Rubio engaged in a charm offensive on talk radio and in the conservative blogosphere to convince conservatives that the amnesty would not occur until a commission certifies that the border is secure and until the workforce enforcement and visa tracking systems are in place. However, it is clear that the border commission would just serve in an advisory role, not as a legal roadblock to amnesty. Additionally, it is clear from the language of the plan, which Rubio enthusiastically attached his name, that the legal status would be granted immediately – without any preconditions of border/interior enforcement.
Finally, Chuck Schumer said that even the path to citizenship will not ultimately be obstructed by a lack of enforcement. Recent news reports indicate that according to the Senate plan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would be vested with the power of certifying that the border is secure. This is the ultimate case of the fox guarding the henhouse. [You can read my full commentary on the immigration debate here, here, here, and here.]
This Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on immigration related issues. The main witness will be Chris Crane, president of the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. He has been one of the most articulate and prolific voices from the inside who have exposed Obama’s criminal disregard for our immigration enforcement laws. Instead of divisive discussions over what to do with those who are already here illegally, Republicans should use these hearings as an opportunity to lay out a vision for real enforcement mechanisms and legal immigration reforms that benefit the country. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a similar hearing next Tuesday.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) - In another attempt to “pick a fight” with Republicans, Democrats plans to reintroduce a bill (S. 47) to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. They will vote on cloture to proceed with debate late Monday afternoon. Then the Senate plans to break for two days for the Democrats' annual retreat. They will return on Thursday to continue work on VAWA.
VAWA represents a massive expansion of the federal government by intruding into the affairs of local law enforcement in dealing with domestic violence. It authorized $1.6 billion for programs to train law enforcement and community activists in dealing with such unfortunate problems. Just like almost every other Democrat proposal, this is an insidious attempt to frame Republicans as “anti-women” because they don’t support a puerile effort to throw money at a problem that is frankly not within the purview of the federal government. Moreover, there is no data suggesting that these programs are effective, and many of them are used to promote liberal social engineering.
- The last reauthorization expanded the programs and protections to the elderly and children. This one would expand “coverage” to men, homosexuals, transgendered individuals and prisoners.
- It expands the definition of domestic violence to include causing “emotional distress” or using “unpleasant speech.”
- It expands the law’s reach to give tribal Indian authorities jurisdiction over non-Indians accused of abusing Indian women.
- It would grant more visas to illegal immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse.
Punchline: Sadly, this travesty is on the cusp of passing the Senate with much help from Republicans. It is co-sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo (yes, we have these types of guys from states like Idaho). It passed the Senate last year with support of 15 Republicans, but was stalled when the House passed a watered down version.
The irony of all this is that liberals are now pushing women into serving on the front lines, and even, most absurdly, in the special forces. Republicans need to draw attention to this hypocrisy by proposing amendments to reign in Obama’s unilateral action to send women into direct ground combat. If they want to talk about violence against women, let’s have a comprehensive discussion.
Call your senators and request that they oppose this massive expansion of government that has shown no positive results in reducing domestic violence, while infringing on people’s rights and encouraging fraud and abuse in the judicial system.
Budget – On Wednesday, the House will vote on a bill which will force the president to identify a date when his budget will balance. Pursuant to the 1974 Budget Act, the president must submit a budget to Congress on the first Monday in February, roughly seven months prior to the start of the new fiscal year. Yet, for the fourth year in a row, Obama will submit his budget late. This measure, which is sponsored by Budget Committee Vice Chair Tom Price (R-GA), will draw attention to Obama’s tardy and unbalanced budget, requiring him to submit a new plan if the first one doesn’t balance.
This is a fine tactic, but Republicans must remember that we need more than just optics to fight for a balanced budget. Republicans must be willing to fight to the brink for a balanced budget during the coming budget battles when the Continuing Resolution for FY 2013 expires on March 28. The budget process for FY 2014 will commence in earnest this Tuesday, when the CBO releases its annual budget and economic outlook.