Sunday, April 25, 2010

Climate bill postponed

Contentious immigration issues are flashpoint for Senate Republicans

monkeywrenchA top priority for President Obama suffered a severe setback over the weekend as Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham withdrew his support for climate change legislation which was to be introduced in the Senate this week. His action came as Democrats prepared to change the sequence in the legislative calendar taking up immigration reform ahead of the massive climate bill. The move by Graham throws a huge monkey wrench in plans by the Obama administration to support the nation’s international commitments to cut greenhouse gases.

The climate bill developed by Sen John Kerry was expected to have a strong section on nuclear energy. Republican support for the climate bill was to have relied heavily on leadership from Graham who’s home state of South Carolina uses nuclear energy for a substantial portion of its electricity. The state is also expected to be home to the construction of at least two new reactors.

Graham’s withdrawal of support for the climate bill actually removes pressure on Sen. John Kerry and California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who come from the two most anti-nuclear states in the country. They’ve had to swallow hard to support the climate bill and its support for nuclear energy.

Arizona is heart of immigration issue

firestorm2At the heart of the dispute is the political firestorm ignited in Arizona last week when Republican Governor Janice Brewer signed a new immigration measure that gives local police unprecedented powers to arrest people suspected of being illegal aliens. The constitutionality of the measure will likely be tested in the courts. The new law has inflamed the entire U.S. Hispanic population and created social unrest in Arizona and other border states. Graham charged that the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved immigration to the front burner in the Senate in response to the situation in Arizona.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Hispanic population of the country at just under 50 million with half that number split between California and Texas. These two states also control a significant number of electoral votes. Florida and New York hold the third and fourth rank positions for Hispanic population. Arizona, at the fifth position, which is at the heart of the controversy, has an estimated two million people of Hispanic origin and just 10 electoral votes.

Democrats sense they have a political opportunity to pass immigration reform and capture support of Hispanic voters in the mid-term elections. The immigration reform legislation would reform rules for temporary workers which is a major priority for U.S. businesses and the Hispanic community.

Amidst Graham’s strident protest stands the reality that only one bill, climate change or immigration, is likely to emerge from the Senate prior to the 2010 mid-term elections. Republicans know Arizona has backed them into a corner, and they are in no mood to cooperate with Democrats.

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3 comments:

DocForesight said...

"...law has inflamed the entire U.S. Hispanic population..."

I'm not sure this is true. I'd like to think the legal Hispanic immigrants are opposed to illegal immigration, much like every other immigrant who abides by the law and is welcomed as a legal immigrant to the USA.

crf said...

This is a silly reason to drop support of the bill: not liking the scheduling of debate. I'd rather the senate dealt with climate/energy now too. But it isn't like the bill's contents are going to suffer from whatever is decided on immigration. The areas are as separate as you're going to find. Staffers currently working on climate/energy in various senators' offices could continue working throughout debate on other bills (as they have been doing so far).

--
Doc,

The law has inflamed hispanics (even conservative ones) not so much because of its expression of doing something about illegal immigration, but because it empowers police to detain suspected illegal immigrants based on vague criteria which are not completely specified.

They fear (I'm not sure justified) the effect of the law will be law enforcement able to question anyone hispanic on the pretext that were doing "something" that might be illegal-immigrantish (standing on the street corner? not speaking english? wearing "mexican" clothes? working in a menial job?), and even arresting them if they can't prove their identity. People who look like they belong in the US (eg, white people) won't ever be subject to such questioning, or defacto requirement to produce identification at any time to a police officer. It's unclear how the law might actually be regulated, but there are, right now, many fears.

Brian Mays said...

"This is a silly reason to drop support of the bill ..."

Welcome to politics. What you see as a "silly reason" other people have been interpreting as a convenient excuse.

I think that there's a lot more behind the scenes than meets the eye.