Politics Burner Takes the Bait
For weeks, the National Republican Congressional Committee has been sending emails to reporters in this state counting down the days to the November elections and suggesting that eastside Democrat Darcy Burner has yet to take a stand on important issues. A recent email, from August 14th, was headlined:
85 Days Out — Where Is Darcy Burner on the Issues?
Of course, the issues the Republicans want Burner to address are made-for-election-year “issues” like flag burning, the “Victory in Iraq” resolution, and border security. Until today, as far as I can tell, the Burner campaign hadn’t taken the Republican bait.
But with the House set to vote this week on the Secure Fence Act of 2006, the Republicans are again firing off the emails, with the one I received from the NRCC this morning asking:
How Would Darcy Burner Vote On Securing Our Nation’s Border?
It also demands: “Burner must tell voters if she supports [a] border fence.” Of course, as the LA Times notes:
The House passed a wide-ranging bill last year that covered enforcement at the border, the workplace and inside the country that made illegal presence a felony and toughened laws applying to legal immigrants. That bill [which failed in the Senate] triggered massive street marches this year.
By introducing a stand-alone fence bill, House Republicans are not just trying to curtail protests and woo voters. They are also trying to build momentum behind their enforcement-first approach to overhauling the immigration system, an approach rejected by the Senate and Bush.
In other words, just like the controversial bill that passed the House last year and led to all those street protests, the Secure Fence Act of 2006 has no chance of passing the Senate (nevermind being signed into law by the president). It also doesn’t address what to do about the 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S. already. The bill’s election-season utility is in making Democrats come out against the fence, creating a nice soundbite to throw to the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican base.
The Democratic response, offered yesterday by Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid, is to blame Republicans for having a “punitive” rather than “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform. Burner echoed that line today when she answered the Republicans’ question (sort of) with this statement:
Darcy Burner, congressional candidate in Washington’s 8th district, reacted to the news that Republican House leaders are pushing for a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. The proposal comes after years of inaction by the Republican-led Congress, and would do little to address the larger issues that make illegal immigration a challenge and threat to Americans.
“This Administration and Republican Congress have had six years to deal with the issue of immigration and meaningful border security. Is this the best they can do? We need comprehensive reform. We must fully secure our border and crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers.”
Note that she didn’t say how she would vote on the measure, denying the Republicans the sound-bite they’re fishing for and instead shifting the frame back to the need for “comprehensive reform.” Will this approach halt Republican attempts to push the Where is Darcy Burner on the Issues meme? Don’t bet on it.
I’m sure the next email I get from the NRCC will point out that Burner refuses to say how she would vote on the Secure Fence Act of 2006. (The D.C. office for Burner’s opponent, freshman Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, says Reichert will vote yes.) But Burner has now smartly thrown the question back at Reichert, pointing out his “real record” on immigration:
Reichert voted to protect employers who hire illegal immigrants by taking two votes to limit the financial fines imposed on employers who hire illegal immigrants. [HR 4437, Vote #657 and Vote #658]
Reichert voted against fulfilling a 9/11 Commission recommendation on border security and immigration to hire more border agents, end the “catch and release” practice, and deploy state-of-the-art surveillance technology to ensure 100% border coverage. [HR 4437, Vote #660]
Reichert voted against $284 million to an emergency spending bills to secure the nation’s borders. [HR 1268, Vote #160]
Press-release politics, I know, but it’s nice to see Burner and Reichert now going back and forth on a meaty subject.