Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It must be an Election Year

For those of you wondering, this year is an election year. Better know as an off-cycle election since we won't be electing a president this year. However, I've seen a few headlines today that let me know that those in Washington are well aware of what's at stake in November.

Two headlines in particular caught my eye.

First, the Washington Post reports that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) and Congressman Mike Pence (IN) have crafted what they hope will be compromise immigration legislation. The Senate has already passed a plan that would allow most illegal immigrants to stay, while the House is focused on the security of our borders. Security seems reasonable to me, yet we do have an issue about the number of illegal immigrants who are already in country. Thus, the huge tension between the Houses of our federal government and even within the Republican party. Hutchinson and Pence hope their proposed legislation would allow both Houses to vote on and -- hopefully in their minds -- pass the legislation pre-election. (If you're interested in learning more about their proposal, click here). I will never claim to be an expert on the complex issue of immigration, but bottomline, they don't want this to be a campaign issue.

The other article that caught my eye today focused on Senator Specter preparing a bill so that Congress could sue the President in court. Click here. To this point in time, that hasn't been allowed. Generally, it would be viewed as undermining the foundations of our three branch system of government. One branch suing another branch in the third branch. Does anyone else see the conflicts inherent in such a plan?

Why would Congress want to sue the President? Good question. In this case it's because he attaches signing statements to some of the laws he signs. A president can do three things when presented with legislations: Sign it, Veto it, or Ignore it (thereby letting it become law after a time period). Those in favor of the plan say that the President's use of signing statements curtail separation of powers (the balance of the three branches). They are also concerned that these signing statements mean the president won't enforce the law as written -- enforcement is one of his duties through the executive branch and departments (State, Defense, Agriculture, etc.).

Senator Specter hasn't filed the bill yet, so it's a long way from a vote.

I'll have to think about this more, but at gut level I really don't think this is a good idea.

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