House Republicans agreed to a set of "guiding principles" on immigration reform, a topic they promise to address once the threat of primaries from the right has passed. The principles document, obtained by ThinkProgress' Igor Volsky, also shows the perils of relying on stock talking points.
Here it is, as cameraphoned by Volsky:
Read the GOP's principles for immigration reform: pic.twitter.com/Uc9g1sWk3g— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) January 30, 2014
It reads, in part:
The serious problems in our immigration system must be solved, and we are committed to working in a bipartisan manner to solve them. But they cannot be solved with a single, massive piece of legislation that few have read and even fewer understand, and therefore, we will not go to conference with the Senate's immigration bill.
What then follows are the party's priorities: border security, a visa tracking system, employment verification, a focus on youth, and so on. We've known for a while that the House would offer its own set of immigration reforms instead of going to conference on the Senate one, as the statement indicates; Speaker John Boehner said as much in November.
Notice the part about how big that Senate bill is. It is indeed huge, with the final version topping 185,000 words. Republicans have long objected to lengthy bills, culminating in Herman Cain's weird 2012 suggestion that laws max out at three pages. (More pages means more government, the thinking goes.)
But: the argument that few people have read it? This isn't like the Patriot Act, a huge bill that was passed shortly after introduction. Politico timestamps its passage in the Senate at about 4 p.m. — on June 27 of last year. That's seven months and three days ago, more than enough time for more than a "few" people to have read the bill.
In fact, even if you subtract the one-third of our lives we theoretically spend sleeping, it was passed more than 208,000 minutes ago — meaning that House Republicans could have read one word a minute since the Senate passed the bill and still had almost 16 days of free time. One word a minute!
How the actual immigration debate shakes out remains to be seen; the development of a set of principles that can spur debate is a good start. But lose the dumb disparagement of the Senate bill. Yes, it's long, but if you haven't read it, that's your own fault.