The Corner

More on Fence Rumors

Captain Ed thinks Kaus is paranoid:

I checked with a source on the Hill yesterday, who says that we have nothing to worry about on the Secure Fence Act:

Yesterday I analyzed the possibility that the lack of a presidential signature on the Secure Fence Act (HR 6061) might be an attempt at a pocket veto. President Bush has never given very enthusiastic support to any border solution that didn’t include a plan for normalization for illegal immigrants already inside the US. Mickey Kaus started counting the days since Congress passed the bill and wondered whether the White House had decided to simply ignore the bill to death.

I took a few minutes at my lunch break to contact a senior staffer on the Hill who has worked the immigration issue. He told me that, as some CQ commenters had speculated, Congress has not formally sent the bill to the President. That means the clock has not started for his signature. The 10-day period starts only after Congress formally prints and delivers the bill for the President to sign into law.

Why has Congress waited? The Secure Fence Act, which requires that the border barrier be constructed, is a very high priority for Republican leadership in both chambers. They and the White House want to schedule the signing for what they see as the maximum impact to the midterm elections. This means waiting for other stories to fall off the front pages. My source told me that the terrorist detention and interrogation bill will be signed on October 17th, and they want this to come after that.

Expect to see this get signed somewhere between October 24th and November 1st. The White House considers this bill a front-and-center accomplishment and wants the boost to last all the way through Election Day. Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress (especially Bill Frist, I’m told) want this to get as much coverage as possible. After the signing ceremony, expect to see this bill get trumpeted in the final advertising push for all Republican incumbents running for re-election.

No one on the Hill or in the White House has missed the message from the base. Everyone understands the importance of signing this legislation for the midterms. My impression is that they didn’t realize that people expected the bill to get signed at the same time as the Homeland Security appropriation, and now they understand the confusion. Bottom line: the Secure Fence Act will get signed into law.

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