After a rough, bitterly partisan end to 2012, which was dominated by a divisive debate about whether solutions to prevent the fiscal cliff were formidable, the New Year has proven to be a fresh – and bipartisan – start for the 113th Congress.
On major – and oft controversial – domestic policy issues like immigration reform and gun control, many bipartisan efforts are underway in the Senate and House. While there may be disagreement about the specific policy prescriptions, efforts or “gangs” like these should be commended for their good work.
Here are some of the highlights:
Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of eight Senators released its framework for comprehensive immigration reform. The framework includes four broad pillars, which are listed below. While broad these serve as a good basis for bipartisan negotiation.
“Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
“Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
“Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
“Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.”
Click here to read the entire framework.
On Tuesday, President Obama appeared in Las Vegas and made a strong call for Congress to overhaul immigration in the first half of 2013.
At a joint appearance on Wednesday hosted by Politico, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), two long-time advocates for reform, shared their enthusiasm for the Gang of 8 framework. Watch the video here.
It’s also been reported that similar efforts are underway in the House of Representatives. That group is expected to unveil its policy priorities ahead of President Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12.
While we don’t yet know what the final outcome will be or what the package of reforms might include, it is refreshing to see this number of bipartisan voices speaking out on such an important topic.