Wednesday, March 29, 2006

David Frum's comment

..................The Senate will almost certainly pass some version of a border-opening bill. Then the House and Senate bills will go to conference, to be reconciled with doors closed, away from public scrutiny. This is where business interests tend to prevail with the Republican Congress - and this will be the moment of maximum danger and opportunity for immigration reform.

These conference sessions are managed by representatives of each house appointed by the leadership of each house. Typically, the leadership appoints the chairmen and ranking members of the relevant committees: in this case, Specter and Biden for the Senate, Sensenbrenner and Conyers for the House. In such a conference session, Sensenbrenner would be out-numbered 3-1 by open-borders advocates, and tough and smart as he is, he would face a difficult fight.

But the Senate leadership does not have to appoint the committee chairmen. Senator Frist could theoretically appoint Senator Kyl instead, or some other senator committed to reform. And indeed conservative Republicans assessing Frist's seriousness should pay more attention to this one decision of his than anything else he says or does on this issue - because it is the moment where he can make a maximum difference for good or ill.

Conference is where immigration hopes have always sunk in the past - and where selfish interests have exerted the greatest influence. Publicity is the most potent counterweapon.

Then of course we have to worry about the president's veto ... but that's tomorrow's problem. Rest here


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