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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tensions boiled over at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Monday, as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) angrily denied accusations that he is trying to exploit the Boston Marathon bombing to delay immigration reform efforts.

Last week’s attacks loomed large over the entire hearing, which was focused on the immigration reform bill put forth by the “Gang of Eight.” Twenty witnesses were scheduled to appear, including United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez, former U.S. representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), and Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, among other prominent activists and business and labor leaders.

After the hearing commenced, the topic turned almost immediately to the Boston bombing, which was allegedly carried out by immigrant brothers Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) used part of his opening statement to criticize those who have pointed to the attack as evidence that the Senate should slow its efforts to reform the American immigration system.

“Late last week opponents of comprehensive immigration reform began to exploit the Boston Marathon bombing,” Senator Leahy said. “I urge restraint in that regard…Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people.”

“The bill before us would serve to strengthen our national security by allowing us to focus our border security and enforcement efforts against those who do us harm,” he added.

That comment drew a sharp rebuke from Senator Grassley, who had linked the bombing and the proposed reforms at a hearing on Friday.

“I want you to take note of the fact that when you proposed gun legislation I didn’t accuse you of using the [Newtown] killings as an excuse,” Grassley said. “And I don’t hear any criticism of people, when there’s 14 people killed in West, Texas, and taking advantage of that tragedy to warn about more government action to make sure that fertilizer factories are safe. I think we’re taking advantage of the opportunity that once in 25 years we deal with immigration to make sure that every base is covered.”

Later in the hearing, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also went after Grassley. As Schumer criticized “those who point to the terrible tragedy in Boston as…an excuse for not doing a bill or delaying it,” Grassley jumped in to interrupt.

“I never said that!” Grassley shouted. “I never said that!”

“I didn’t say you did,” Schumer replied as Leahy banged his gavel in an attempt to restore order.

Despite Senator Grassley, Congressman Steve King (R-IA), and other reform opponents’ efforts to use the Boston attack to delay or derail the immigration bill, it remains popular among voters and retains significant bipartisan support. As one Senate GOP aide told Politico’s Mike Allen, “The … analysis that the Boston attacks are a setback for immigration reform appears wrongheaded, as we learn more about the story.”

“Given the facts, the events in Boston seem unlikely to stoke nativist sentiments that may derail immigration reform,” the aide continued. “To the contrary, to the extent it renews fears of terrorism, it will strengthen the case for reform, since the bipartisan proposal fixes major gaps in our national security posture (by implementing a visa-exit system, registering and background-checking undocumented immigrants, gaining 100% awareness of our southern border, etc.). ”

Similarly, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) argued during a Monday morning appearance on Fox News that the bombing shouldn’t slow down reform efforts. “If we fix our immigration system it may actually help us understand who all is here, why they’re here, and what legal status they have,” Boehner said.

The reform bill is on track for a vote in the Senate early this summer; if it passes through the upper chamber, it will go to the House of Representatives — where Boehner’s Republican majority is expected to mount a much tougher opposition than their Senate counterparts.

Live streaming video of the ongoing Senate Judiciary Committee hearing can be viewed here, via C-SPAN.

Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr.com

  • The problem for those who are trying to use the Boston tragedy to reject immigration reform is that not a single mass murder in the USA has been carried out by illegal immigrants. From Timothy McVeigh to those responsible for the Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Newtown, Wisconsin, Boston and all the other tragedies, all the perpetrators have been either white males or Muslims from far away lands (Saudi Arabia, Chechnya).

    • Lovefacts

      Or, in the case of Boston, a legal resident and his naturalized American citizen brother. Again, religion may be their excuse, but I bet the truth as with all the others is anger they didn’t suceed at the Amercian dream.

      • InsideEye

        You can not just dream, you have to work at it, which they both were doing, but they got side lined by ignorance.

      • Religion helps those seeking spiritual comfort, it can be dangerous for those who confuse allegories with fact, and for people incapable of rational thinking.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    I heard this particular cameo between Senator Schumer D-NY and the two drawling sucks ups of the GOP. It was hilarious. Senator Schumer nailed Grassley between the eyes and the heated denial by Grassley was poetic justice. And who intervened on Grassley’s behalf? Another drawling red stater who had the gall to tell Senator Schumer not to “demean” Grassley. How is telling the truth to these red state hypocrites “demeaning?”

    These same red state drawling fools can call the President any vile thing they like but the minute a northeastern senator tells the bare faced truth and calls the GOP attempt to refocus the Boston mayhem on immigration an “excuse” to Grassley’s face, they get their sugared britches in an uproar.

    The red state conservatives don’t want immigration reform. They love all that cheap exploited illegal immigrant labor. Grassley is a liar and a slime ball whose state businesses benefits from illegals. The reality is that the GOP has obstructed any hope of clamping down on the businesses who BRING these illegals into the US for work they know the Porker States with the plantation mentalities is cheaper than what they’d pay Americans. So Senator Grassley…how about an apology for your hypocrital refocus and denial to Senator Schumer or aren’t you man enough to own up?

    • mah101

      Just to be clear, Grassley is one of the senators from Iowa. Iowa is not a red state (rather purple these days) and to illustrate that point let’s note that it is one of the few states to legalize gay marriage and it voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

      Iowa is about as antithetical as possible to the “plantation mentality” you mention.

      I certainly don’t disagree with your criticism of Senator Grassley. However, let’s not paint an entire state with such a broad brush and lump it in with southern stalwarts.

  • I am 84 years of age and I have never, NEVER, been so disgusted with the so-called leaders of our country!!! I’ll tell you this, do you remember the story “Last of the Mohigans”? When Senator Robert C. Byrd (WV) passed away a few years ago, this country lost the last of the truly great Americans. When Senator Byrd passed away, his estate was listed as being in the thousands. After being the longest-serving Senator, his fortune was in the thousands, not millions!!! Check out the lawmakers of today and you’ll find that even the young ones are now worth millions! Why do I bring this up? – Between the lobbyists and favor-seekers their palms are constantly being greased!!! Our lawmakers of today are the most arrogant, corrupt, underperforming, non-caring and unqualified in the history of our country! When 90% of the American citizens favor a particular bill and the US Senate spits in your face in denying it, it is past due for some type of revolution; not armed revolution but some extreme measure is becoming necessary. The citizens of this country live under and by the rules and regulations enacted by these bubbleheads, but when these same rules and regulations result in failure, what happens? They immediately do three things: declare personal and party innonence and blame the other party, give themselves a raise and more benefits (most for life), and tell us that we will have to make sacrifices in our lifestyle so they can get that monkey off their back!!! We are headed in the wrong direction and the train is picking up speed!!!

    • johninPCFL

      Yes that’s true. Rubio went from being so broke in the FL legislature that he used the FL GOP credit card to make his payments to being worth over $1MM today. Like Cruz, just a bought-and-paid-for hispanic face for the GOP to point at.

  • Lovefacts

    When you don’t have the facts or truth on your side, you have only two recourses.
    1. Attack the truthteller via namecalling, preferably the louder the better–ore so it seems.
    2. Attack the truthteller claiming s/he was rude and demeaned the other person by telling the truth.

  • How do we get rid of these people? You can’t fix idiots.

  • rustacus21

    … American’s would do good & our legislators would fare even better if Liberal/Progressives would simply stop engaging conservatives, reminding them that it is their policies that have created both the immigration mess (thru non-enforcement over the 2001-2009 period) & attacks on U.S. citizens (by their ‘crusade’ against non-Christians), over the same 2001-2009 executive period. Again, we MUST be mindful of the fact that the 2001-2009 administration (the most incompetent EVER in the nation’s history!!!) & enabling conservatives in Congress, who knowingly endorsed lies & fabrications that Democrats believed & therefore, were ‘induced’ into supporting, led us to these disasterous points in time. We ALL should be more awake than to allow the Patriot Day/Boston Marathon bombing to be politicized & hold hostage ANY OTHER pieces of vital legislation, simply b/c conservatives are protecting 1 of their own… Knowing this, what IS the real problem?