The long-fought Senate immigration bill that opponents say grants amnesty to 10 million illegal aliens is unconstitutional and appears headed for certain demise, Senate Republicans now say.
A key feature of the Senate bill is that it would make illegals pay back taxes before applying for citizenship, a requirement that supporters say will raise billions of dollars in the next decade.
There's just one problem: The U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits revenue-raising legislation from originating in the Senate.
"All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives," according to the "origination clause" in Article I, Section 7.
Republicans -- including the bill's supporters -- say this will kill the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he's offered a simple solution. He wants to attach the immigration bill to a tax bill that has already passed the House. It would then proceed as planned to a "conference committee," where negotiators from the House and Senate hammer out differences between the two chambers' immigration bills.
"This is a procedural issue that we could overcome," said Carolyn Weyforth, spokeswoman for Mr. Frist.
But Minority Leader Harry Reid won't go along with that fix. His office said yesterday that the concerns raised by Mr. Frist and House Republicans are "technical in nature" and can be ignored.
You know the US Constitution is so pesky about those details. Not that I epect much better from the Senate, they spat out the egregious McCain/Feingold Act which kills political speech inspite of the First Amendment "technicality".
To skirt the ban, Republicans say, the Senate easily could agree to attach the immigration bill to the House-approved tax legislation. They see Mr. Reid's refusal to fix the problem as an attempt to scuttle the bill, and thus deny the Republican Congress a "victory" for passing immigration reform before this fall's elections.
"We can solve this constitutional issue if Harry Reid would drop his obstructionism and allow the comprehensive immigration legislation to move past the Senate," Ms. Weyforth said.
Now I don't like Harry "Love the Fights" Reid much, but I am glad to see this bill scuttled. It's a bad law that the majority of citizens oppose. I know "Tickets are not a Bribe" Reed is not doing this for any other reason than political grandstanding but I am glad it is happening.