A Teleconference With Jack Kingston And John Doolittle On The “Death” Of The Immigration Bill

Earlier this afternoon, I was in on a teleconference with Congressmen Jack Kingston and John Doolittle about what’s being hailed in some corners as the death of the Senate Immigration Bill this year.

Kingston and Doolittle opened things up by saying that the death tax and line item veto are going to come back up again. They also talked about public hearings for the immigration bill and said it would be brought back up in the House again in August.

Then, it went to the Q&A phase. Here’s a general synopsis of what was said from my notes (Nothing below is a direct quote).

John Hawkins: Most people are saying that this means the bill is dead for the year. Do you believe that is the case?

Jack Kingston: I hope not. We have a chance to come back after the hearings and get a bill done. I would not support this if I thought it was a way to let the bill die slowly.

John Doolittle: I think the intent is to have a bill. Our problem is reconciling our bill with what the Senate has done.

Question: How do you think the President will come down on the bill?

Jack Kingston: I think these hearings will push the President in our direction.

Question: If a bill doesn’t happen, are you comfortable with that going into the 2006 elections?

Jack Kingston: I’d like us to be in Conference. Unfortunately, there was a lot of outrage when the Senate passed its bill and while we understood that, they didn’t seem to get it. We want to separate ourselves politically from the Senate on the issue.

John Hawkins: What happens if the bills can’t be reconciled in Conference? Does that mean we won’t see any improvements on border security and illegal immigration crackdowns this year?

John Doolittle: Well, the Bush administration is already doing more because of the debate. They’ve put the National Guard on the border. They’re doing more funding for immigration enforcement. We also authorized the completion of a fence on the border. So we’re already making progress. Those things would have never happened if not for the House bill. I think the administration will ramp up enforcement law.

Jack Kingston: They’ve also ended catch and release (Hawkins’ note: I don’t know about that). The Guard will continue without a bill. Virtual fences and grants will continue without a bill. We need to pass the Dave Drier ID act

Question: What’s the perfect scenario for immigration? What would a perfect bill look like?

Jack Kingston: You need border security, employer sanctions, clarity and certainty of the law, biometric ID cards, and we need to get rid of birthright citizenship.

Question: Are you seeing a change on the other side of the aisle on the war?

Jack Kingston: I think so. I think Murtha is finding himself in a position where he only has the hard left following him. His supporters are Dennis Kucinich types.

John Doolittle: I think the American people think we did the right thing; they’re just not sure we can be successful. We need to show them what we can do.

Jack Kingston: What if we pulled out? We’d have no credibility. The third largest oil-producing country in the world could be run by terrorists. What do you say to the families who lost people? That it was for nothing? It would be a terrible idea.

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