Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mister (Former) Speaker

I’ve been copying my Rep., Dennis Hastert, on all my correspondence to the Senate on immigration reform. Today I got a letter in the mail from him in response. (FYI, I haven’t received any other responses from any other leaders in months. I guess they are a little behind in their letter writing.)

Here’s the tone of his letter: “serious problem”, “balanced approach”, “rich immigrant tradition”, “embracing our common identity”. He gives a nice overview of the house bills being considered this year and the Kennedy plan in the Senate. But nowhere does Hastert tell us what he wants to do. He never gives his personal opinion.

He gives an explanation of STRIVE (HR 1645), proposed by Luis Gutierrez, a pro-illegal Democrat from Chicago, and tells us where it stands in the process. But he never tells me how he feels about it.

In contrast, Hastert’s letter to me on February 9th included a strong statement of his position. He said, “during the 109th Congress, with my support, the House passed H.R. 4437…” and “House Republicans …oppose efforts to reward the behavior of illegal immigrants.”

His position has softened. I’m not sure what is going on. Some possibilities: He is no longer Speaker of the House. The Republican Party is in disarray. He’s contemplating retirement or running again thus has gone into "campaign mode". He’s had a change of heart.

No one really knows what he’s thinking but it is clear that he currently wants to report what’s going on without taking a stand. That’s too bad; most of us appreciate a leader who takes a stand. And after 11 terms in Congress, he ought to know what he wants to do about immigration. I am about ready to write him off as another evidence of the need for term limits.

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