June 7, 2006

The start of the joint House / Senate conference that is necessary to attempt a reconciliation between H.R.4437 and S.2611 is being delayed by House members relying on a perceived constitutional technicality.  The technicality involves a requirement in the Senate bill that undocumented workers pay any back taxes owed to be eligible for permanent residence and the U.S. Constitution that states that all revenue measures must originate in the House.  The House bill did not involve taxation.  GOP House members are demanding that the problem be corrected prior to the start of conference negotiations.  Resolving the technicality, however, is proving to be a point of contention in and of itself.  On Monday Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to take up the House bill and replace its language with that of the Senate bill.  Senate Democrats are likewise balking at the Republican suggestion of adding the Senate bill to a revenue bill that the House has already passed and is currently before the Senate.  The fear is that such a maneuver would allow the Republican-led conference opportunity to make tax changes completely unrelated to immigration.  The result, for now, is gridlock.