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What the Devil won't tell you

5 reasons McSally should sign on to help DREAMERS

Discharge petition awaits Cool Martha's pen, as her alter ego seeks Senate

Come look kids, it's Haley's Comet with a double tail. It's a double rainbow and a leprechaun at the base. It's the Arizona Wildcat football team making the Rose Bowl.

It's something you'll see maybe once in a lifetime, before nano technology has us living the lifespan of tortoises.

The U.S. House of Representatives may pass a major piece of legislation with a discharge petition and that's good news for Arizona's 25,500 "Dreamers" and horrible news for a certain congresswoman looking to move up to the U.S. Senate.

A discharge petition is simply that, a petition to wrest a piece of legislation from the House speaker's iron grip and bring it to the floor for a vote. To get a bill discharged, sponsors need a majority of House members to sign it. Right now Democrats and moderate Republicans are just three signatures away from forcing that vote.

It's so close that Speaker Paul Ryan is trying to forge a deal between the humane and the humorless on the immigration issue. The talk among the Republican majority is going nowhere, but with just three signatures needed to force legislation to the floor, the House hardliners are increasingly in a pinch. And McSally recently jettisoned her previous backing for a widely supported immigration bill as she burnishes her conservative credentials in her face-off with rightwingers Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio in the GOP Senate primary.

An aside to true progressives who don't think it matters who runs Congress: popular ideas should have no problem finding 218 votes, right? Wrong. It only matters who runs the House 99.999 percent of the time. A bill celebrating fatherhood and T-bone steak won't see the House floor without a majority support from the majority party's representatives. Even then, if a House speaker wants to make a point, he can throw that bill in a drawer and keep it there until he's kicked out of the office. The speaker controls all legislative traffic.

Unless 218 members sign a petition, which means a certain number of the majority party showing their hands in revolt against the person who decides their committee assignments, chairmanships and if any of their other legislation ever gets to come to a vote.

McSally hasn't signed. She should and leave moderate Republicans just two signatures shy of forcing the vote.

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The congresswoman representing southeastern Arizona needs to finish the job she is being paid to do and sign onto the discharge petition. She can worry about the job she aspires to later. There are good reasons to do so.

Cool Martha vs Mean Martha

First, some background.

President Donald Trump decided to let the DACA program lapse, leaving 800,000 young people suddenly facing deportation often decades after their parents brought them to the U.S.

The courts stepped in and blocked most deportations while judges figure out the program's fate. That's hardly encouraging, but it was at least a temporary reprieve.

So the few remaining moderate Republicans and Democrats have teamed up to force a vote.

There are four bills covered by the petition. Two are liberal that would give permanent resident status to so-called Dreamers eligible for protection under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival program established by President Barack Obama in 2014. There's a conservative bill that would give temporary legal status to DACA folks. A fourth bill is an unspecified one that Ryan could drop at his discretion, which could be Trump's bill or the phone book.

If the discharge petition pushes the issue to the floor under the "queen of the hill" process, the bill that passes with the most House votes among the four options goes to the Senate.

So yeah, this is very rare and very bad news for McSally. She's in a primary death match with arch-conservatives Kelli Ward, a former state lawmaker, and America's least law-abiding sheriff, Joe Arpaio. McSally is accurately reading the taste of GOP primary voters for anything short of deportation.

The McSally we elected to Congress would have probably signed the petition already. She was tough but fair, having co-sponsored legislation that would have granted Dreamers temporary legal status prior to hopping into the Senate race.

Since then, she pulled her support for the bill she co-sponsored and has been touting her hard-line stance to compete with Ward and Arpaio. But McSally being McSally, she doesn't go full-on chemtrail crazy, while making arguable points about MS-13 and the National Guard at the border. She's grousing about whatever "sanctuary cities" are (and it's seriously an eye-of-the-beholder thing) but that's a legit point of contention. The point is, Mean Martha fishing for votes hasn't completely killed Cool Martha, who said this to  the Arizona Daily Star last year:

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McSally said the students who are part of the DACA program have done their part, registering with the federal government, going through background checks, going to school and getting jobs after graduation.

“It is my view that we need to solve this thing legislatively. You can’t just have Congress complain that the administration shouldn’t have done that. Well, if you think it is Congress’ job, then just do your job,” she said.

Right, McSally's job is still representative from Arizona's 2nd Congressional District. I know this because I don't type "former" in front of  her name. So Martha needs to keep earning her paycheck.

So here are five reasons McSally should sign onto the bill:

1. The merits

I know, call me crazy but I'm actually going to argue the merits before I get into the reasons why the legislation is serves her glory.

There are two things we don't generally do in our system of law. We don't prosecute kids for parents' crimes. The Constitution even bars that for the highest crime of treason. We don't legally expect kids to rat out their parents to the authorities for fear of legal retribution. If a kid knows dad is dealing blow, we don't prosecute the child as being an accessory and we sure as shit don't go find him 20 years later and say “remember how your dad dealt out of the back of his mini-van taking you to soccer practice that day? You have the right to remain silent....”

And let me tackle this amnesty bullshit right here and now. The Trump administration is – as we speak – slashing regulation on industries right and left. What he's not doing is demanding any corporation that violated the rules as they stand be prosecuted fully as a precondition for rolling back those regulations.

Republicans never made finding tax cheats a precursor to passing tax cuts. It's not amnesty to change the rules and make them more lenient, and hold past violators to the new standard.

Amnesty is holding those who violate the law to no standard.

When in the name of Goldwater have we ever told a kid “you don't get a business license because your father was a crook.”

Finally, it doesn't let the parents off the hook for crossing the border illegally so they can destroy our country by picking our fruit letting us buy nice and ripe on shelf at Safeway (that was the Communists' plot). Their status is still very much not regularized until Congress cracks the code of broader immigration reform.

We don't punish kids for their parents' crime. Period. End of story. Once they assimilate here, we shouldn't be in the business of telling them to go back there when they often have no memory of "there" at all.

2. Blue wave hasn't ebbed

Democrats occasionally look like they're going to blow it, psyched out again and again by Republicans who would rather not drag Trump across the finish line.

Republicans know they win landslides when they turn a midterm into a referendum on an unpopular Democratic president so they are shouting from the rafters that “the people don't care about Trump.” And like they have some Jedi mind powers over the Democrats and the media when it comes to understanding “real America,” Democrats and the media are repeating the message.

I write this with nothing but respect: Good job, GOP, with the suspension of reality.

Checking a president is always the easiest midterm sale and it should be easier with Donald Trump in the White House.

The generic ballot is tightening but the GOP's numbers aren't growing. Democrats numbers are falling during the primary season. Voters telling pollsters they would vote for an un-named Republican have remained in the high-30s since last summer.

Trump's job approval has ticked up as Republicans fall in line behind him but his numbers among independents and Democrats are horrible. Gallup put Barack Obama's job approval at 46 percent 17 days before his party lost 63 seats and Bill Clinton's job approval was at 48 percent two weeks before Democrats lost 54 seats. Trump rising to 41 percent isn't cause for Republican relief.

Yeah, the economy is doing well. Trump has proven masterful at getting way too much credit. During the first 17 months of his term, the economy added 3.2 million jobs. During the last 17 months of Obama's tenure, the economy added 3.4 million jobs.

Hand it to Trump, he can repeat a message like no one else.

Now he wants a trade war and either Trump is wrong about it or every economics professor in America has been lying to us. When the jobs numbers start falling in the third quarter, that's a problem for Republicans.

McSally will need something to bring to swing voters to show she's not a stooge of the president. DACA could work, given that polls showed handing Dreamers a path to citizenship gathers more than at least 75 percent among voters.

I don't see a downside here.

3. She can get a wall

The final deal could be what U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer brought to Trump: DACA kids for the wall.

Democrats and progressives flip the freak out over the idea of a border wall but it's seriously not a huge deal because there's a wall on much of the the border now. Anyone who doesn't think tall, tightly spaced bollards towering in the desert are a wall are free to put it in their backyard and say “it's a fence.”

Also, let's remember, Trump doesn't sign a bill and a wall goes up the next day. A wall will take years to get into the ground. The alignment must be surveyed. The soil must be sampled. The project must be designed. Requests for proposals must go out. Bids must be selected. Infrastructure must be scoped, designed and built just to get people and materials to the border.

It's taking the Regional Transportation Authority at least another five years to finish widening Grant Road from Oracle to Swan, after more than a decade of planning and construction has gone by. How long will it take the federal government to build a wall from Tijuana to Brownsville?

McSally can stop reading now, so I can give an aside to liberals: Democrats can sign onto such a compromise today and if they win the House in the fall, block all funding. The wall goes away in 2020 if Trump loses and that's at worst a 50-50 proposition for him (more like 100-0 if our econ profs haven't been just shining us on about Hawley and Smoot).

So, McSally will get the wall so long as the people want the wall. If they don't, them's the breaks.

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In the mean time, it's 25,500 birds in the hand versus a wall creeping through the bush of the bureaucracy.

4. You can piss off progressives

I say give them their citizenship tomorrow along with a written apology for all the muss. That is what being "pro-amnesty" looks like.

I don't get to impose my will by decree. No single person does other than maybe the 60th vote in the U.S. Senate required to break a filibuster.

Kick a bill over to the Senate, watch it change in conference committee and there will be a conservative bill. Progressives will freak and now Democrats will be in a box to fix what's fixable or walk away and leave Dreamers in limbo.

Liberals will huff and puff, demanding they hold out for a better bill but them's the breaks, too.

Progressives had chances to get a clean DACA bill. On the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even-numbered years, many repeatedly chose to say no difference exists between one party and the other. They now live with the accumulation of those choices.

Conservatives won a landslide victory in 2014 by winning just 40 million House votes. Two years before, 67 million voters threw in with Barack Obama.

Human beings won't have their lives in limbo or turned upside down facing job loss and uncertain futures.

Living in a country legally and being on a pathway to citizenship can be different things. A person must live in Austria for 15 to 30 years before applying for citizenship. Cantons, basically provinces, in Switzerland have their own citizenship requirements. Plenty of people in the U.S. on long-term visas aren't eligible for citizenship.

A path to citizenship is as narrow or as broad as the beholder chooses. All 7 billion people in the world are on a path to U.S. citizenship if they complete the steps. On the other hand, DACA recipients can be granted a form of legal protection absent a path to citizenship, other than remaining eligible for a separate process available to the whole wide world.

And that right there, denying Dreamers options available to all other residents is punishment and therefore not amnesty.

5. Do your job

Does the bill stand a chance in the U.S. Senate even if McSally signs on to the compromise? The Senate majority leader has said he won't allow a vote on a DACA bill that the president won't sign. Well, who knows?

If the world has learned anything about Trump, it's that he caves to flattery and will accept about anything if it's disguised as a monument to him. Call the bill “The Trump Act of Toughness and Love” and five will get you 10, he'll lend it his John Hancock.

Here's the deal, McSally may be in a position to make the U.S. Senate her primary concern on Jan. 3, 2019. Today, she is paid to represent the voters of Southern Arizona. They are the voters she was representing when she herself declared that Congress has to do its job. So she has to do the job she has now.

Today, all politics are national and Republican primary politics being what they are, McSally probably won't cave.

A guy can dream can't he? Oh, wait, maybe not.

Blake Morlock is a journalist who has spent 17 years covering government in Arizona and has worked in Democratic political communications. Now he’s telling you what the devil won’t.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

McSally during a May junket to the border in Nogales.


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