By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
A year ago, President Obama was re-elected President of the United States and his party built on its thin majority in the United States Senate. The emboldened President began his new term by forcing a massive tax increase and debt ceiling increase through the Congress without giving Republicans any concessions on runaway spending or his unpopular Healthcare Reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).
Claiming an electoral mandate from the people, the President set gun control and comprehensive immigration reform as the two centerpieces of his 2013 legislative agenda. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D) from California controversial wide ranging assault weapons ban failed to get to the Senate floor. A more limited gun control proposal failed to pass the Senate.
The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” prepared a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have dramatically increased the number of legal immigrants that the U.S. would allow in the country and would give legalization and a pathway to citizenship to an estimated 12 million illegal aliens already in the country. U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama was an instant vocal critic of the controversial bill. The bill passed the Senate with additional border security proposals, but quickly stalled in the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) from Ohio said he would not conference with the Senate immigration bill; giving the appearance that comprehensive immigration reform, or at least the ambitious Gang of Eight version, is dead in this Congress.
Senator Sessions praised the announcement in a written statement while also sounding a note of caution. Sen. Sessions said, “Today’s announcement is an important and positive development for our nation, our people, and the Republican party. House Republicans are resisting an influence campaign and standing for the interests of the American people. But a word of caution: the groups pushing for Gang of Eight-style legislation are well-financed and very powerful. The Gang of Eight’s bill’s fatal flaw was always that it answered to the special interests at the expense of the national interest. Arguably the single most destructive feature of the Senate’s immigration bill was the massive permanent surge in low-skill immigration that would reduce wages and increase unemployment. The White House and Senate Democrats shamelessly coordinated with a small cadre of CEOs to pressure House Republicans to yield.”
Sen. Sessions continued, “It’s time for Republicans to tell these special interests to get lost and to be the one party that will defend the interests of the millions of low-wage Americans looking for better jobs and better wages. This is the moment for a vision to emerge centered on growth and prosperity for working Americans—not just the powerful and well-connected.”
Senator Sessions has been a vocal critic of the proposal and cited the Obama administration’s poor track record of enforcing current immigration law and the terrible jobs situation the country has faced since the Great Recession of 2008-2009 as reasons to oppose the complicated Gang of Eight immigration proposal that passed the U.S. Senate.
Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has represented Alabama in the Senate since his election in1996. Prior to that Sessions was Alabama Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney for South Alabama.