Senator says Bush’s involvement key to immigration reform

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., contends any chance of passing comprehensive immigration legislation this year rests with President Bush's personal involvement, especially corralling reluctant GOP members to support the effort.

In a CongressDaily interview, Leahy said he told the administration he will not mark up a comprehensive immigration bill "until the president gets involved personally and strongly." Leahy said he is concerned that momentum for a comprehensive measure peaked before last year's congressional elections, when GOP lawmakers alienated Democrats by passing a bill authorizing a 700-mile fence along the border with Mexico.

"I don't doubt his commitment on a comprehensive bill. I had a long, long talk with him last time [the matter was discussed]," said Leahy, who spoke favorably of Bush's knowledge of the topic. "You are not going to have Republicans involved unless the president is involved ... We're going to lose Democrats, too, because not every Democrat is going to be in favor of a comprehensive bill," he said.

Leahy said he would like to move other business-related measures, such as one to create a national standard for data security breaches and another that would remove the antitrust exemption for the insurance industry.

On data security, Leahy said chances for passage rest with public outrage over breaches at businesses such as shoe retailer DSW Inc. and BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. and government agencies such as the Veterans Affairs Department -- which have not galvanized Congress. Six committees in both chambers have jurisdiction over the issue, complicating passage because of potential territorial fights.

"If it is left to the special interests, the companies that don't want to make changes, then you have a difficult time. Because with three committees [in the Senate], it's too easy to keep the ball in the air," he said.

Leahy also has sponsored legislation with Republican Sens. Trent Lott of Mississippi and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania that would remove the antitrust exemption for insurers and would place them under FTC oversight. Leahy is aided in his quest by Lott, who has made it a personal mission to bring more accountability to the insurance industry in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

His house was destroyed and State Farm Insurance did not cover his wind damage claims. "It is interesting we have strange bedfellows on this, myself and Trent Lott, we tend not to be lumped philosophically together ... I think that's probably worrying some of these companies as much as the chairman is doing it," Leahy said. "Trent is working this very, very hard on his side of the aisle."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.