Surprising almost no one, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will use the lame duck session of Congress to push the controversial DREAM Act, granting immigrants all the way up into their mid-thirties a pathway to U.S. citizenship.
Politico reports that Pelosi has tapped the help of two California Democrats, Rep. George Miller and Rep. Xavier Becerra, to measure how the Democratic caucus would take up the bill. As far as it stands currently, recently ousted House members really have nothing to lose if they voted in the affirmative for the DREAM Act. As the legislative clock winds down for the 111th session of Congress, their tenure as representatives of their constituents is coming to a close.
With the historical shift of power in the House, Pelosi will use her waning days as the House Majority Leader to pass what she sees as the last chance to enact legislation like immigration reform. Despite losing the House, Pelosi has already touted the many "accomplishments" of her party during this term.
Her pursuit of House Minority Leader is certainly bound to play itself out in interesting fashion as she's looking to continue the same progressive agenda against a Republican-dominated House. While President Obama is discussing the need to compromise with the new Republican leadership, it's noteworthy to consider that the one person from whom "compromise" has not been heard is from Speaker Pelosi.
Having forged ahead with healthcare reform, look for Pelosi to apply the same mentality to the DREAM Act when it comes up for a vote next week. Suffice it to say, the DREAM Act should probably have no problem passing the House. The Senate, however, is a different story.
Pelosi's immigration push is coming on the heels of Sen. Harry Reid announcing not too long ago that he would take up the DREAM Act in the Senate during the lame duck session. While Reid is safe as Senate majority leader for the next few years with his hard fought election win over Sharron Angle, many of his colleagues should be having second thoughts on the issue of hastily passing an immigration reform bill, having just witnessed the clobbering of 60 plus seats in the House.
Advocates of immigration reform may like to tout numbers that seem to indicate that constituents want some sort of immigration reform. Indeed, immigration reform is an issue which many Independents would likely support. However, that doesn't mean that this gives way to the excuse that Congress can just hastily ram through legislation. Bills are meant to be read, discussed, and deliberated upon. That is how a democratic republic like the United States is supposed to function and that is how it's ensured that the best bills are passed for the issues they seek to address.
All this brings to light one of the criticisms of lame duck sessions of Congress both past and present. Once these sessions begin, voters really have no power over holding their shunned representatives accountable for the decisions made during these sessions. While voters in over 60 districts have already sent a powerful message to outgoing members of Congress, these same representatives appear to be forging ahead with their own agendas despite the lack of support from disgruntled constituents.