In their charge to aid President Obama in delivering the sweeping change he promised almost one year ago, the US Congress has their hands full.
Besides pending healthcare legislation and financial reform, the Democratically-controlled Congress is looking into two other issues, both of which happen to be of particular significance to California: climate change and immigration.
Politico is reporting that Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) are vying over whose pet cause will get top priority in the new year, the former touting immigration reform while the latter pushes for climate change legislation.
In 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger recently tackled climate change here in the Golden State, saying that global warming must be slowed down “before it’s too late.” Meanwhile, the immigration issue is naturally nothing new to California as a border state.
With time ticking away on the congressional calendar, Congress will be lucky to implement a solution for even one of these issues. Given the Democratic leadership's uncertainty about possible losses in November’s 2010 midterm elections, what seems to be their instinct at the moment is to pass as many items on their agenda as possible.
In essence, perhaps Congress is attempting to bite off more than they can chew. That, or they're taking on the role of lame duck legislators apathetic about the impact their rushed bills will have on the rest of the nation.
Given California's unique and worsening budget woes, the state’s voters must hold their federal officials accountable to not rush support for (or support against) either a climate change or immigration bill.
While the content of such bills has yet to be determined, there is also the consideration of whether these particular issues are something the feds should even tackle. Perhaps such issues can better addressed at the state level.
Determining the viability of such solutions takes time and cannot be implemented over night.
There must be a reasoned and productive dialogue concerning these next issues even if the congressional clock expires. This notion remains especially true when it comes to immigration policy. With California as one of the nation's most populous immigrat states, there is no room for the hasty imposition of some federal "solution" concerning immigration reform if it hurts California in the long run.
It’s no secret that climate change and immigration reform are some the most hot button issues of our day, boiling tea partiers to the edge and stimulating fiery rhetoric from the left. Independents are likely to vastly differ on these issues, some believing the federal government can present a working model while others are more cynical of federal intervention.
What must not perpetrated at the end of the day is the myth that just because some citizens support a federal role in these issues doesn’t automatically mean they intentionally want to destroy the country. Likewise, just because other citizens believe in no federal role doesn’t imply apathy about those issues.
What’s most important is that Californians of differing political ideologies bond together to hold their elected officials accountable in order to preserve the state's fragile economy.