Big Immigration Vote Shaping UpMarch 11, 2008 - by Donny Shaw
Immigration, the most toxic issue of the 110th Congress, is once again in the limelight. House Republicans are going to try to force a vote on a bipartisan, Democrat-written enforcement bill, the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007, as a way to highlight fissures related to the issue in the Democratic base.
>House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told Republicans Tuesday morning during their regular weekly meeting that Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.) would launch a discharge petition later that day to begin gathering signatures to force a vote on legislation authored by Rep. Health Shuler (D-N.C.).
>The Shuler bill – to [add] 8,000 border enforcement agents, create a national database of eligible workers and expedite the deportation of undocumented immigrants – was offered as a political shield for Democrats in more conservative districts whose constituents are concerned about illegal immigration to the United States.
>But the legislation has created headaches for Democratic leaders by angering members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and threatening already fragile negotiations over a significant overhaul of the current guest-worker system.
>Republicans would need to gather 218 signatures to force a vote on the measure, meaning some of the Democrats who have already sponsored the Shuler bill would need to sign the petition before GOP lawmakers could force a vote on the House floor.
>Republicans, who will wield the discharge petition as a political tool, wasted no time applying pressure to those Democrats who have already signed onto the Shuler bill as co-sponsors.
The bill has 135 co-sponsors, 48 of which are Democrats. House Republicans — all 202 of them — are expected to sign the petition, so only 16 of the Democratic co-sponsors will be needed on the petition for the vote to take place. If one of the 48 Democratic co-sponsors is your Representative (you can view the list here), now’s a good time to contact them to let them know whether or not you want them to sign the petition.