NOT CROSSING THE...

NOT CROSSING THE AISLE. Ed Kilgore and Matt game out some of the politics of immigration legislation, with Matt taking a slightly more hardline don't-pass-anything position. Kilgore, however, fully acknowledges that a bill coming out of a House-Senate conference would be substantively worse than no bill at all if it leans in the House's draconian direction. Some think that pull-out-the-stops pressure from the President might enable a decent final bill to emerge -- I have my doubts Bush's best efforts could actually do that, but at any rate such a campaign seems unlikely to happen.

The immigration bill debate seems somewhat relevant to this subscription-only Roll Call piece about new Democratic prohibitions on pre-election bipartisanship:

Senate Democratic leaders are pushing their rank-and-file Members to refrain from reaching across the aisle to work on legislation and other policy efforts with vulnerable Republican incumbents until after Election Day, warning that the GOP has often used such displays of bipartisanship to protect incumbents in tough races only to abandon those measures after November, Democratic sources said Tuesday.

Specifically, aides said party leaders were concerned that shows of election-year bipartisanship could help a number of Republicans facing difficult challenges, including Sens. Rick Santorum (Pa.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Conrad Burns (Mont.), Jim Talent (Mo.), Mike DeWine (Ohio) and George Allen (Va.)�

During Caucus luncheons and staff-level meetings over the last several weeks, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and their top aides have repeatedly �reminded� Senators and staff that in order to win a majority in the Senate, �We have to beat [GOP] incumbents� and not help them by co-sponsoring legislation, jointly signing letters to other colleagues or the administration on key policy issues or agreeing to conduct joint events with vulnerable Republican incumbents, a Democratic leadership aide said.

According to the aide, Reid, Schumer and other leaders and strategists have argued that, �Every five-and-a-half years these guys pretend they�re moderate, and we fall for it every time. We�re not going to help them this time.��

This is all of course heinously partisan and "irresponsible" and bad bad bad, but I'm certainly glad to see the Dems doing it. Immigration reform obviously cuts across various political constituencies in particularly unusual and complicated ways, so the dynamic Democrats are worried about regarding vulnerable Republicans isn't quite as pertinent there. But a resistance to handing the majority party a big legislative accomplishment on the eve of the election -- when that election, as Matt points out, is all but guaranteed to produce results that will enable better legislation to pass -- seems sensible enough to me.

--Sam Rosenfeld

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