Push for Amnesty Running Out of Time
At the beginning of Summer, supporters of amnesty, nee comprehensive immigration reform, had high hopes of passing legislation by the Fall. Big business, the GOP Establishment, Democrats and Big Labor were in rare alignment on the need to add millions more to the formal labor rolls. Popular conservatives like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan gave forceful speeches on the imperative of extending amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants. And then...well, nothing.
Obama's Organizing for Action and immigrant advocates planned a long, hot summer of grass roots activity on the issue. They planned to target GOP House members at town halls and hold rallies across the country in support of the Senate's amnesty bill. Most of these failed. Amnesty activists planned a big rally with tens of thousands of supporters in the home district of GOP Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy. The rally attracted a few hundred people.
In a week and a half, Congress returns from its August recess. Supporters of amnesty seem no closer to securing final passage than they were before Congress took the month off. Worse, they are now looking at a very cluttered legislative calendar. Even if the winds shifted and amnesty fever took over Capitol Hill, there is very little time to get something done this year.
There are 9 legislative days in September. In October, there are around 14 legislative days. All told, before the end of the year, there are fewer than 40 legislative days when Congress is in session. If immigration were the only issue on the agenda, that would be an ambitious agenda to complete work on a bill. It is, however, by no means the only issue on the Fall agenda.
At the end of September, the government's spending authority expires. Unless Congress agrees to a resolution extending the government's ability to spend money, the government will shut down. At the same time, on October 1st, one of the first major provisions of ObamaCare comes into effect. On that date, federal and state health exchanges are set to open to allow people to shop for health insurance.
A few weeks after this, the government's borrowing authority reaches the "debt ceiling" limit. Unless Congress lifts the ceiling, the government will no longer be able to issue new debt. No, the government doesn't default if it hits the ceiling, it can simply only spend the revenue it brings in each month.
The continuing resolution and the debt ceiling debate are already expected to consume almost all the oxygen in Washington. Add to this the deteriorating crisis in Syria and the Federal Reserve's widely expected withdrawal from the market, and it is hard to see the amnesty issue garnering more than a glancing look from policymakers.
Three to four crisis are about to converge on DC and Capitol Hill. These will crowd out discussions on immigration reform and amnesty, for which the public has no interest. Abraham Lincoln once said, "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."
Events will kill amnesty.