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Congressman John Campbell discusses the House GOP’s plan to help scuttle the Senate immigration bill Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
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CPL: We are joined by Congressman John Campbell. Welcome, Congressman Campbell.

JBTC: Hello, Carol, how are you?

CPL: I’m fine, great to have you with us. And let me try and sort of set this up a little bit before we get down to business on what’s going on, on the immigration bill on the House side. And we were just talking about what’s going on in the Senate side, and as things stand now, my understanding is that tomorrow, there will be a vote on whether or not to bring the bill back to the Senate floor, and that requires sixty votes in order for the legislation to come back to the Senate floor. If they don’t get sixty votes on the Senate side, the bill is dead. But if it does get down to the floor, there are sixty votes to bring it back, an amendment process will take place, 11 on each side, and once those have been voted on and debated, there will be a cloture vote, where again, the bill’s proponents need sixty votes in order to finish the bill, stop debate on it, and vote and send it over to the House. And I was wondering, that’s a long way, Congressman Campbell, of getting to the question, what is going on in the House side? Is there anything going on there that might impact the Senate debate? Or what can you tell us?

JBTC: Well, yes. A few weeks ago, I mean, first of all, and I don’t think I need to remind you or the listeners of the Hugh Hewitt Show that this bill is awful. I mean, it will take our illegal immigration problem, and instead of improving it, it will perpetuate it, and make it worse over time.

CPL: And not even to mention the national security implications of some of this stuff.

JBTC: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, on top of that. So it’s terrible. So a few weeks ago, we thought this thing was dead in the Senate. And nothing’s going to, nothing bad, at least, or probably no immigration bill is going to start in the House. If this thing in the Senate dies, then I think it’s done with. I don’t think anything similar will start up in the House. So we were, a few weeks ago, we were pretty elated. We thought it was dead. And then obviously, there’s been this attempt to revive it. And I don’t know whether it’s revived or not. But a bunch of us were talking in the House last week, and we said you know, we shouldn’t wait to see if this thing is going to get revived in the Senate and come back to us. We ought to try and make sure, see if there’s a way that we can show a significant amount of opposition to this bill in the House now, before it ever comes over.

CPL: Right.

JBTC: Because one of the ways that politicians work is that I think even the people voting for this in the Senate know that this is not a popular vote.

CPL: Yeah, with only something like 23% of Americans supporting it, I think that’s right.

JBTC: Yeah, I have constituents tell me all the time they’re, they say to me, you know, I haven’t talked to anybody who is for this. Are these Senators just out of touch? Or is there somebody out there that’s for it that doesn’t live anywhere near where I live? And I’m not sure which it is, but it may be some of both. But it clearly, as you said, is an unpopular vote. Now it’s one thing if you believe in legislation, and you make an unpopular vote in order to see it become law. It’s another thing to make an unpopular vote for something that’s never going to become law. I mean, why, as a politician…

CPL: Sure. Why walk the plank for no reason?

JBTC: That’s exactly right. Why do you walk the plank for no reason? So there’s a group of us that are working on trying to get some kind of message, and we’ll be working on this tomorrow, and I believe John Shadegg’s going to be, from Arizona’s, going to be on the show tomorrow, and he’s one of the leaders in this…

CPL: Yes, we think so.

JBTC: Yeah, and he’s one of the leaders in this effort, and we’ll probably know more tomorrow. But what we want to try and do is send a message to the Senate, and say hey, this thing is not going to pass in the House, so those of you who are thinking of walking the plank, don’t bother. And then perhaps if we can send a strong enough message over there, that maybe that will help just bury it in the Senate, and then we won’t have to worry about what we have to do to kill it in the House come July or September.

CPL: Sure. And so, how many House members, how many Congressman do you think are going to be willing to sort of sign onto this effort where you essentially tell the Senate look, you know, it’s DOA over here, because hasn’t Nancy Pelosi said something like she needs 60 Republicans to be willing to support the bill for her to even be willing to bring it to the House floor, correct? So how many Republicans do you think you all sort of have with you in this effort to send this smoke signal over to the Senate?

JBTC: Yeah, you’re right, Carol. Pelosi has said that she wants those 60 Republican votes, and that’s because we don’t, Pelosi is liberal, and we don’t think she’s leading the country in the right direction, but she’s not dumb.

CPL: Right.

JBTC: And she understands, she does not want to pass this thing as an entirely Democratic bill. That will really cost them in the next election. So she wants a bunch of Republicans voting for it for cover for her Democrats, or else she’s not even going to bring the thing up. So there are 202 Republicans in the House, she said she wants 60. So if we can get 140 something to say we don’t like this bill, then people will know it’s dead. And I’m not sure how many there are. That’s some of what, perhaps, we’ll find out in the next few days.

CPL: Okay, and so tell us, how can we help? I mean, is there some kind of encouragement? Is this a time when encouraging our Republican House members to sign onto this effort would be useful? Or how can people who are very much in support of what you’re trying to do participate?

JBTC: What we want now, and normally, we wait for bills to get over to us, but what we, what people can do is let, obviously, pound on their Senators. I mean, that’s the first line of defense, and just make sure the Senate doesn’t pass it. But what we’re trying to do is add to that, add to another reason the Senate won’t pass it, and that would be to call your Congressman, and say hey, come out and oppose this thing now.

CPL: Right.

JBTC: Let’s oppose it now, because we often say well, we don’t know what it’ll look like, but this bill is a pig, and they’re trying to put some lipstick on it.

CPL: Right.

JBTC: But it’s still going to be a pig, even with that lipstick.

CPL: Sure.

JBTC: So that’s what people can do, I think.

CPL: Yeah, no, that’s very helpful. And I mean, the thing that I think is interesting is really, the biggest implicit admission Nancy Pelosi’s made about what a stinker this thing is, is the fact that she’s requiring so many Republican to come over, given that she knows it’s going to be a problem for some of her more moderate House freshmen to participate in this. Isn’t that the case?

JBTC: Yeah, yeah, and I mean, that’s what I don’t understand. Sometimes, some of the people who are supporting this, particularly some of the Republicans over in the Senate who are supporting it, if Pelosi understands how tough it is…if she thought this was good law, or good politics, they could just pass it in the House. They don’t need…

CPL: Right. They’d be thrilled to just do it all…it’s an all-Democrat bill.

JBTC: That’s right. We don’t have cloture votes in the House. They can pass it without a single one of us. They could just pass it. So but she’s not going to do that. She’s not even going to try to do that. And that, even though they probably could, they probably, if they pushed it…

CPL: Yeah, they’d have the votes.

JBTC: They have the votes, and they could probably pass it, but she’s not even going to try. And so, that should be a message to some of those in the Senate, that hey, why do, if she understands the political liability of this, even regardless of where you are on the bill itself, at least they ought to understand the political liabilities.

CPL: Absolutely. And Congressman Campbell, one final thing. When tomorrow might we see a sign that the House is sending these smoke signals to the Senate? I mean, will it be before the Senate’s vote to take up the bill? Or is it more likely to be later in the week before the final cloture vote? What do you think we might expect to see when?

JBTC: Ideally, it would be tomorrow before they vote. But really, the main thing, the Senate is planning…the people who are pushing this in the Senate want to have a vote before we go back for the July 4th recess. So that would be by Friday. So that’s, tomorrow would be great, but Friday’s kind of the deadline.

CPL: Wonderful. Well, Congressman Campbell, thank you so much for being with us.

End of interview.

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