Sunday, August 27, 2006


In Search Of Congressman Pombo, Part Three

You may recall that in part one, on July 30, I noted how I had written on July 15 to Richard Pombo, my local congressman, about border security. I received a form letter reponse almost instantly, and was advised that I would recieve a response related to my concerns soon. I was stirred up on July 30th by something I read at Club for Growth by Andrew Roth. It was a list of 19 amendments requiring up or down, public votes on specific pieces of pork spending, not just a single vote on some big bill that has any number of pork projects hidden away inside it. Pombo voted against every single one of these. I decided that since I hadn't heard from him, I might go ahead and write to him about each of these nineteen amendments, one at a time, and see if the response improved.

In part two, On August 11, I noted how I still hadn't heard from his office in regards to the July 15 issue, and I picked the first of the item's on Andrew's list to write about to Pombo.

Imagine my shock when I saw a letter from Pombo in my email, "Subject: RE: Your message to Congressman Pombo." Not exactly a next day response, but still, I wrote it on a Friday, you toss in the weekend and he might not have seen it til Monday, and here's an answer on Thursday. You're probably guessing by now that this was actually his response to the July 15 email about securing the borders. Here's a bit of what I wrote to him:
I was glad to see you have an "On the Issues" section on your re-election website. Unfortunately, when I went to it, the information there was pretty generic.

I'm no politician, but even I can say "clean energy is good" or "borders are important." Can't you give some specifics? I'm sure your Democratic opponent in the fall will say "clean energy is good" too.
So aside from "borders are good," what exactly do you propose or support? A border wall? National Guard troops? How many troops? Where will you put them. Is there a bill you are supporting right now? What is it's number so that we can look it up. If there is no such bill, when do you plan on introducing one? When are votes scheduled?

That's not too unreasonable, is it? Platitudes are nice, but how about some specifics? Well, he made an effort.

He replies:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns with immigration. It is important that I hear from you on this issue.

Our immigration system and borders are broken and must be fixed. We must take strong action to ensure our borders are effective in preventing illegal immigration. Since September 11, 2001 we face new threats like we have never seen before. An inadequate and dysfunctional immigration system leaves our Country vulnerable to terrorist attacks. [All platitude-LF]

Amnesty is not an option when fixing the current immigration system. I believe it is important to remember that while America is a nation of immigrants, we have a vested interest in an immigration system that is legal and fair. Amnesty rewards those who have broken these laws, and is simply not an option. I do NOT support amnesty. [Pretty platitudinal, but the last sentence is a nailed down position, provided we don't get into a discussion about what amnesty "is" later on-LF]

On December 16, 2005, The House of Representatives took a strong first step in addressing the immigration problem by passing The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, H.R. 4437. I voted for this legislation. [Date, title of the bill, bill number, the vote he cast; exactly the sort of thing I was looking for: cold, hard, specific details-LF]

The Border Protection Act will strengthen our immigration laws by significantly increasing security at the borders. It is a crucial first step in the right direction. Congress has a sovereign duty to protect America’s borders and this legislation does just that. [Back to platitude land. Nothing specific about how border security will be "significantly" increased, with a bonus bit of doing our duty lingo thrown in-LF]

Additionally, The Border Protection Act puts forth the tools needed by the border patrol to deal with illegal immigration. These tools also help local police who keep our communities safe. Security at our nation's borders is paramount in our post 9/11 world. Our border security must meet the challenges of the 21st century by improving the ways we identify, track, and prevent terrorists from entering the U.S. [All non-specific platitudes again-LF] This legislation bolsters our immigration policy in key areas:

* Combats the hiring of illegal workers [How?-LF]
* Increases the penalties for alien smuggling [How?-LF]
* Cracks down on alien gang members [How?-LF]
* Bars terrorist aliens from naturalization [How?-LF]
* Eliminates the “Catch and Release” practice [How?-LF]
The Border Protection Act is a crucial step toward keeping our country safe. This legislation addresses the shortfalls of our current immigration policies while adhering to the philosophy of maintaining a free nation of laws that remains open to legal immigration. [Can I get a detail, a number, anything at all specific?-LF]

The Senate has finished debate and voted on its own version of immigration legislation, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, S.2611. During Senate debate, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) proposed an amendment that would have required the Department of Homeland Security to certify that U.S. borders were secure and new detention facilities were fully operational before a guest worker program could take effect. The amendment failed by a vote of 40 to 55. I support the principle behind this amendment. Securing our borders is the first and most important priority. [Title and bill number of the corresponding Senate legislation, including Senator Isakson's failed amendment is a nice touch, even if it feels a bit "they're even worse than us so go pick on them"-ish to me. And supporting the principle behind something just sounds weak-LF]

Subsequently, the House and Senate must reconcile their differences and come to an agreement between S.2611 and H.R. 4437. A final bill will then be sent to the President for his signature. [A little civics lesson thrown in for good measure-LF]

Again, thank you for contacting me. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Well. I am not sure what to think. I had my hopes up for a moment, but aside from specifically identifying some bills, he had almost nothing specific to say about content or what he would do. Perhaps, as a first effort, we should grade lightly. If this was a doctor's visit, he would have told us nothing but the name of the disease, then given us a medical textbook on our way out the door so we could look up the details and treatment ourselves. At least he gave us the textbook. I'll give it a "D". It's the sort of report I would have written back in school, for a friend, for a class I wasn't in, based solely on the writing prompt and whatever BS I could throw together.

Well dang! After all that, I don't feel like getting into the second amendment on Andrew's list: Hydroponic tomato production in Ohio ($180,000). Maybe next time
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