A CROWDED CALENDAR…. Wall Street reform is obviously up front and center on the Hill right now, and will be the dominant legislative issue of the day until is passes. But with the bill’s prospects looking up, policymakers are already wondering what else they can get done in 2010.
Last week, President Obama told a group of high-profile business leaders that a climate/energy bill is up next in the Senate. Yesterday, the president signaled an intention to tackle yet another major legislative initiative around the same time.
President Obama called Sen. Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, on Tuesday afternoon to try to get him on board with Democrats hoping to pass immigration reform, Brown’s spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told CNN.
Gitcho said Brown told the president he would review the proposal, but made no commitment. White House spokesman Bill Burton confirmed the President called the Senator to discuss the legislation on Tuesday during his return flight from California aboard Air Force One.
Currently, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, is the only GOP Senator on board with moving on immigration reform, but he has told Democrats they will lose his support unless they find another Republican.
In terms of the timeline, Brown told the WSJ that the president apparently intends to move forward with an immigration overhaul “in a month.”
It’s encouraging that the effort is coming into focus, not only for substantive and policy reasons, but also because it suggests Democratic leaders aren’t shying away from ambition. There’s not that much time left in this Congress — there’s a summer recess coming up, and lawmakers will want to get on the campaign trail as quickly as possible in the early fall — and Wall Street reform, the budget, a climate/energy bill, and immigration reform, it’s hard to believe Dems will able to check so many items off their to-do list, especially in the face of reflexive Republican opposition to everything.
But the agenda is worth pursuing. Not only is it likely that voters will be impressed with a do-something Congress, but chances are, real policymaking in the next Congress will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Tackling as much as possible, as quickly as possible, is wise.