National Immigration Forum

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Update on Legislation: Health Care and Immigration Reform

August 07, 2009 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

President Obama had asked Congress to send him a health care reform bill before the August recess.  That deadline is not close to being observed.  The three committees in the House that have jurisdiction over health care reform have completed their work, but a vote in the full House has been put off until after the recess.  In the Senate, a bill is still being negotiated. 


There are intense efforts going on to kill health care reform and, as one of my colleagues put it, opponents of health care reform seem to have rented out the anti-immigration movement to assist them.  In town hall meetings around the country Congressmen and women are being shouted at by attendees who assert that the Democrat’s health care reform would give health care to “illegal immigrants.”  It doesn’t, but the charge gets repeated everywhere.  Facts don’t matter with this faction of the population that we see again and again in the debates around solving the many crises being faced by our nation.  This is the faction that staunchly opposes solutions—the segment (and their Congressional champions) that Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress refers to in this blog post as the “status quo caucus.”


While the health care debate preoccupies Congress and the Administration, the timeline for immigration reform has slipped.  Senator Schumer was quoted in Congressional Quarterly on August 5th as saying that he now hopes to have the broad outline of a bill, rather than the complete bill he said a month ago, by Labor Day. 


No surprise.  It always takes Congress longer to complete consideration of any consequential legislation than the original timeline that is proposed, and this year Congress is trying to tackle a number of major reforms.



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