As the pressure mounts around the country on the police state known as Arizona, eyes turn to Washington for comprehensive immigration reform. Top Senate aides informed me this morning that despite news stories to the contrary, Majority Leader Harry Reid has not backed off of the idea of pursing an immigration bill as the next order of Senate business. The clarification is one that may be too nuanced for some but is an indication of the balancing act the Leader feels he must make to hold the Democratic caucus together while trying to pursue legislative remedies to the huge problems left to fester during the days of the past Republican majority. The clarification however will probably not satisfy the Latino community as the disrespectful sting of the slap in the face delivered by Arizona lingers.
According to top aides who I spoke to this morning, Reid is willing to set time for whichever of two top priorities, immigration or climate change legislation, is ready first. This may mean the same as putting off immigration reform as there already has been a huge effort invested in climate change legislation and Senator Schumer has not been as organized or focused on the immigration bill that must come from his committee.
This is a clear indication that while Senate Democrats believe themselves to be great legislators they have far to go in understanding the reality of their political future. While the climate change proposal is of great importance, the passion for it pales to that of immigration reform by the Democratic base and now of a growing number of independents shocked by Arizona’s latest draconian effort. Additionally the goal of Senator Graham in pushing climate over immigration is clear. Climate change legislation gives Graham the ability of being perceived as a GOP moderate while providing him with the political bonus of postponing immigration legislation. Senator Graham has already indicated his plans to blame Obama directly and Democrats generally for not passing immigration reform during the upcoming fall elections. Graham believes his strategy will suppress Latino voters and he is correct. While that might seem like a far fetched strategy in the halls of the Senate, the message that Democrats have been neglectful on the issue of immigration is already resonating on the ground.
Gov. Jan Brewer has given the Democratic party a huge gift by passing 1070. The question is: will Democrats accept delivery? The President asked that Latinos and the young be part of saving his majorities. Latinos are not only “Latinos” they are a large chunk of the “young”. The sleepy mid terms can turn out to be a Democratic wave but Schumer must step up and Reid should schedule creatively.
Senator Reid and Schumer, Jan Brewer has sent Democrats a gift and delivery is at your doorstep, the question is: what can Brown do for you?
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