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SANTA FE — If there is anything that can make the New Mexico Legislature look good, it is the follies going on in Washington, D.C.
Both groups share one commonality. There’s a lot of talk but not much is going to get done.
In Santa Fe, House Democrats can stop Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s meager agenda. Senate Democrats also are the majority party but some of those Democrats have joined with a united Republican party and it appears that coalition is going to be able to stop anything Democrats want to get to the governor’s desk.
To demonstrate that politics is equal opportunity, the situation in Washington is reversed but the partisanship is unchanged. A Republican House and a Democratic Senate that requires a 60 percent vote instead of 51 percent means little can be accomplished in that body.
Congress came back to do a little work this week but will spend most of its time fighting. By Friday it has to figure out how to avoid the big boulder it put in its road, called sequestering. They won’t let it happen because that cuts everything equally, which means too many pet projects get hurt.
Congress will waltz around that boulder, somehow, only to run into the expiration of a continuing resolution that runs the government out of money.
They already have artfully dodged a fiscal cliff. They won’t try completely shutting down government. Newt Gingrich tried doing that to President Bill Clinton and got badly burned.
Furloughs are being discussed. New Mexico state employees know about those. Gov. Bill Richardson imposed furloughs and ended up badly bruised.
Gun control isn’t likely to see much action. People feel strongly about it but those feelings go both ways. Government buy backs see people bringing in boxes of guns and telling authorities they don’t want any money. They just want to get rid of them.
On the other hand you hear just as many say the only way they will give up their gun is for someone to pry it out of their cold, dead hand. How do you get people with such differing beliefs to agree on anything?
Richardson is saying on national shows that he thinks the stars now are in alignment to allow a comprehensive immigration act to pass Congress.
He reasons that with illegal immigration now going down instead of up, Americans are less fearful of them eventually taking over.
And Republicans have determined that if they are going to win any more national elections, they are going to have to start addressing Hispanic needs.
Richardson thinks Congress can craft a plan to address a path to citizenship, border security, the DREAM Act and a guest worker plan.
Martinez also has a comprehensive immigration plan that she has voiced, but not often. She has let Florida’s U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio take the spotlight on immigration.
Being from a border state Martinez is well positioned to take the lead on immigration if she wants some more time on the national stage.
Back in 2007, when comprehensive immigration was last tried during the George W. Bush administration, Sen. John McCain took the lead and almost got it passed.
Then when McCain decided to seriously run for president, he had to do an about face on immigration in order to win the GOP primary. His trademark saying became “Build the dang fence.”
Currently McCain is concentrating his efforts on fighting President Obama’s nominees for top cabinet positions and doesn’t seem especially interested in immigration.
But immigrations was the subject that got him in trouble at a town hall meeting during the most recent congressional recess, according to news coverage. And McCain sounded like the McCain of old defending the need for a comprehensive immigration solution.
As those of you who are longtime readers know, McCain is one of my longtime heroes but there are few people who have disappointed me at times as much as he has.
Guess he figures he has to do it. And it gives people in my business plenty of material.