Dead. That’s what immigration reform is, at least before the November elections.
After months of emotional debates and hearings, Capitol Hill lawmakers are no closer to coming up with a compromise that satisfies both sides of the divisive subject. Now comes the August recess, which marks the start of flat-out campaigning for a vote that has nothing less than control of Congress at stake.
And, while lame-duck legislators may flap around the issue post-Nov. 7, don’t look for anything to get done until the new Congress convenes in January _ if then. Word is that President Bush has told Vicente Fox, his Mexican counterpart, not to expect a compromise anytime soon.
Legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens took his ardor for animals to Congress this week, testifying in favor of a House measure to bar the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
A longtime animal advocate who airlifted 800 abandoned dogs and cats to safety after Hurricane Katrina, Pickens says 100,000 horses are killed in the United States a year to sell the meat to France, Belgium and Japan, where horsemeat is considered a delicacy.
A West Texas rancher best known as the founder of energy powerhouses BP Capital Management and Mesa Petroleum Corp., Pickens has apparently rankled some of his former fellow cattlemen with his stand.
Speaking of livestock, a move is afoot on the Hill to keep manure from being deemed a toxic waste. Environmentalists contend the Superfund law that regulates cleanup of the worst chemical and other hazardous pollution should apply as well to so-called “factory farms” and large ranches, which produce vast quantities of animal waste that can despoil water and other natural resources.
But the cattle industry says that’s a bunch of bull, calling manure an organic substance that has been used for centuries as fertilizer and hardly poses a pollution threat equal to hazardous-waste dumps and chemical-factory spills the Superfund law was designed to address.
Livestock lobbyists already have built a bipartisan stable of House and Senate supporters to argue that manure already is sufficiently regulated by other state and federal laws.
Anti-Americanism is all the rage around the world these days, but foreigners are still coming to visit, and in growing numbers. More than 3.9 million international visitors traveled to the United States in April _ 22 percent more than came in April 2005. For the first four months of the year, overseas visitors are up by 6 percent over last year’s total through April.
Early tabulation of the goods the Defense Logistics Agency sent to aid the evacuation of U.S. citizens from war-torn Lebanon: 2,000 cases of Meals-Ready-to-Eat, 8,400 group rations, 11,700 cases of bottled water, 2,000 cots and 1,412 blankets.
It wasn’t just the military that has mobilized to help move the 14,000 Americans out. About 78 Customs and Border Protection agents and Transportation Security Administration screeners were dispatched to make sure nobody and nothing illegal was allowed to sneak in as well.
The 16th anniversary of the revolutionary Americans with Disabilities Act was marked Thursday with a call from the American Foundation for the Blind for businesses to make it easier for those who can’t see to shop, search for information, book travel and apply for jobs via the Internet. The organization says it would be relatively easy for companies to modify their sites so they are accessible, primarily by using audible commands.
“Some of my colleagues have been waiting for years to nail me to the wall.” _ Former Senate GOP leader Bob Dole, in remarks at the unveiling of his official portrait this week in the U.S. Capitol.
(Contact Lisa Hoffman at HoffmanL(at)shns.com.)