Behind The Mic With Joe Mathieu: The Latest Legislative Pork
BOSTON (CBS) - It’s never pretty to see how the sausage is made. And having spent over a decade covering the White House and Capitol Hill I can assure you that rarely a sausage is made without a little pork.
But it’s a bit different in the case of the Immigration Reform bill that passed the U.S. Senate yesterday.
There are no Bridges to Nowhere in this thing. No studies on insect mating rituals. And yes, those have been found in other pieces of legislation.
But this bill has had no shortage of back room deals, resulting in a number of goodies for special interests, to help gain the support of senators who may have not have voted for it otherwise.
Several of these items were pushed by lobbyists representing industries that use a cultural-exchange program to recruit young foreigners. They are used to fill seasonal jobs as nannies, camp counselors and factory hands.
The two Senators from Alaska even got a deal to overturn a law that protects foreign exchange students from jobs that the government deems “too dangerous” – namely in seafood processing factories.
It’s already been dubbed “The Alaska Seafood Special,” by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Now let’s keep in mind this is an immigration reform bill. It’s supposed to secure the border and create a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants. But some industries are using it to save a lot of money.
And it’s not just because these foreigners will do jobs the rest of us won’t.
USA Today reports these changes came from aggressive lobbying by resorts, au pair agencies and other industries that use the cultural exchange program to hire temp workers without having to pay unemployment taxes, Medicare or Social Security.
It will be interesting to see if any of this survives in the House.
You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeMathieuWBZ