Is a Compromise on Immigration in the Cards for Republicans and Democrats?

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on July 22, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Time for the "Ups and Downs."

Up: Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana. His immigration-reform plan could be the basis of an imminent compromise between the House and the Senate. Among its features, a guest-worker program, but without amnesty.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: You know, Mort, when I first heard the Pence plan, I'll have to say, I thought it was not going anywhere. But now the White House has really adopted it as its plan in its final effort to pass a comprehensive immigration bill this year.

And this year, of course, is important. And the hope is to forge a compromise to have a Senate-House bill that's based largely on the Pence plan. But some added elements from a bill by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. Things like limiting the reach of the bill to immigrants from Latin America, Mexico and the South — the CAFTA and the NAFTA countries.

And it would also provide some way to raise money to cover, you know, emergency rooms in Southern California that have to treat for free all these illegal immigrants.

Now the Pence bill, you know, has border security — the beefing up of that upfront. And then not for two years could you go into the guest- worker program. The president would have to certify the border was secure.

And then he could start the guest-worker program. But the guest workers and those who would also go on a path to citizenship would have to go back to their original country first, not for long, but they'd have to go.

The key here is Hispanic groups. If they don't oppose the bill, and if Teddy Kennedy, the senator from Massachusetts backs it, it has a chance. Otherwise, no.


Well, you cannot get a bill passed this year on a strictly Republicans-only basis. They're just aren't enough votes. I mean, they're going to try it in the House. But I don't think it'll even work there. But for sure you can't in the Senate, where it can get filibustered.

So now there are some Democrats who don't want to pass any bill. You know, they're hoping that they can find a reason that they can be against it in order to deprive the Republicans of a victory.

Ted Kennedy — and I think he is key, as you say — desperately wants a bill, and he wants to find a way to get through these narrow channels to find an agreement.

But I think what it'll take to get Kennedy is Pence plus — for sure, a path to citizenship, a green card people who go home, but then have a guarantee that when they come back, and if they work and if they, you know, have clean records and all of that, that they can end up having green cards and not just be permanent workers without status in the United States, like Turks in Germany or something or Palestinians in Saudi Arabia.

So that's crucial to this. And also the return would have to be quick, and you'd have to make sure that heads of households only had to go, and that the whole family didn't have to go and et cetera, et cetera. It’s a deal that can be worked out.


KONDRACKE: But the problem still is, then, going to be, will the House Republicans go for something that contains earned legalization? I don't know the answer to that. They're your friends, not mine.

BARNES: And I think they can get enough of them.

All right. Up: President Bush. Despite being politically unpopular, Bush stuck to his moral guns, vetoing a bill that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

Here's Bush at a White House event with so-called "snowflake kids" on Wednesday.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Each of these children was adopted while still an embryo, and has been blessed with the chance to grow up in a loving family. These boys and girls are not spare parts.


BARNES: That was an amazing White House appearance by a president. I've never heard one where you hear the squeals in the backgrounds of the kids. Quite amazing.

Anyway, look, I think this bill to expand federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research was largely symbolic. A lot of it is already going on around the world. Here in the U.S., partly federally supported is that program in California and so on.

On this issue, as "Time" magazine said, science has outrun the politics, because there's been great advances made in adult stem-cell research, where they have found now, contrary to what was originally believed, that adult stem cells, and cells from the blood of an umbilical cord, are now able to transform themselves from one kind of tissue into another, something that was originally thought that could only be done by embryonic stem cells.

And of course, the other value of adult stem cells is you're not killing an embryo.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Well, look, the federal government is the biggest funder of medical research. And when the federal government bans use of embryonic stem cells that are beyond the lines that Bush originally approved, if you work on those lines, you got to open a separate lab from the one that you could get federal funds for. So that's a problem.

Look, nobody's against adopting embryos and converting them into children. I mean, you know, having them be children. But there aren't very many of those that are going to happen out of the 400,000 embryos that are likely to be discarded and could be used for research.

And the other thing is that I don't care what "Time" magazine says about all this. In "Science" magazine there was an article in which it was clear that the overwhelming scientific opinion in the United States is that embryonic stem cells are more effective than adult stem cells.

If adult stem cells prove to be as potent as embryonic stem cells, great. But that's not where the science is at the moment. And -- all science should go forward.

Up: Ned Lamont.Senator Joe Lieberman's Democratic primary foe is making big-time gains in the latest polls. After being down 15 points in early June, he's now up 4 points in the latest poll taken last week. And that's among likely voters, Democratic voters.

But running as an independent, which Lieberman said that he'd do if he lost the Democratic primary, Lieberman trounces Lamont and the Republican candidate in the general election. So this is a good news-bad news story.

In bluest blue Connecticut, you have a situation where a moderate, Joe Lieberman, will win, according to this poll, a majority of the vote.

BARNES: One way or another.

KONDRACKE: That's good.


KONDRACKE: The bad news is that Ned Lamont — if he wins — represents a triumph in the Democratic Party for the, Howard Dean, Daily Kos, Michael Moore, left-wing of the Democratic Party, which is not only, you know, bad on foreign policy but on globalization, but is also just as nasty and mean on the left as Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and those other hot dogs on the right.

BARNES: Meaner. Meaner.

KONDRACKE: In some cases, yes, because…

BARNES: Do you know what Lieberman's problem is — and I hope he gets re-elected. Do you know what his problem is? He is connected to Bush; he supported Bush's Iraq policy. It's the Bush link that drives those lefties crazy. They hate Bush so much.

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