There have been many casualties as a result of the government shutdown and debate over healthcare that has ground legislative business to a halt. However, one of those casualties is the ambitious legislative agenda that was supposed to be addressed this year, after the tumult of last year’s campaign and next year’s mid-term fight, which is sure to be as brutal and bloody a battle as a political fight can get.
The issue of immigration reform has been an evergreen issue in campaigns, usually though it takes a more xenophobic slant. In recent years, the focus of this discussion has been about immigrants who entered the country illegally. However, with a voting bloc that is 11 million-strong, this last election was the year when people who campaigned on immigration reform had to do so seriously. In fact, it was such a large issue, that eight members of Congress were recently arrested during a rally designed to be civilly disobedient.
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In an interview with Univision, President Obama promised to address the small-business owners who were hurt by the shutdown. Also, he said, “Once [the shutdown] is done, you know, the day after, I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform.” He challenged Speaker of the House John Boehner to call for a vote on the immigration bill, but he understandably has a pretty full plate at the moment.
Yet with all the focus on fiscal matters, the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June and was tabled in the House may actually be relevant to the discussion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that the bill would continue to shrink the federal budget deficit by $197 billion by 2023, and $700 billion a decade later. House Republicans remain against the bill, but may be forced to bring it up for a vote.