Voice of Reason

Congressman John Shadegg has this piece in today’s Arizona Republic.

The recent personal attacks leveled at Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl are inappropriate and counterproductive. It is appropriate for any of us to express our views on the merits or flaws of any proposed legislation. However, personal attacks or challenges of individuals’ honor or patriotism are unbecoming and out of place, especially on issues of such magnitude.

At the same time, the criticism by President Bush and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez of those who disagree with them are equally inappropriate and counterproductive and only serve to further divide the nation on this issue.

President Bush’s comment that those who disagree with the bill “don’t want to do what’s right for America” was intemperate and offensive. He presumptuously asserted that anyone who does not support the bill hasn’t read it. For those who may not read all 347 pages, let me address just three of the provisions I believe raise legitimate concerns.

He goes on to expose the problems of a 24-hour background check, the catch-22 of employers not allowed to use the verification database until after they have hired someone, and then not being able to fire that person until the person has appealed their status, and the issue of the bill treating those here illegally better than guest workers.  He concludes this way.

I cannot support legislation with such troubling provisions left intact. At a minimum, Z-visa applicants should go through a thorough background check before getting any visa regardless of how long it takes; employers should be allowed to determine the eligibility of job applicants before hiring or spending money to train them; Z-visa holders should not be offered a new path to citizenship or enhanced benefits not offered to guest workers.

As a native Arizonan, I strongly support legislation that would include border security, interior enforcement, employer enforcement, and a lawful mechanism for those seeking employment as guest workers. Regrettably, I do not believe this bill and the extreme rhetoric it is inciting are leading toward a solution.

“Intemperate and offensive” is pretty strong language coming from a Member of Congress of the same party as the Bush.  But, it probably reflects the feelings of many, many Republicans.

Congressman Shadegg has been a rarity in Congress – a member of the Revolutionary ’94 class that delivered the majority to Republicans – he hasn’t forgotten what conservative principle means.  He has a lifetime ranking of 98.1 with American Conservative Union (the highest in the delegation and the only thing preventing a 100 are his votes against a flag-burning amendment), a lifetime grade of A- with Numbers USA (also the highest in the delegation and significantly better than JD Hayworth’s C+ lifetime grade) and one of only three members of the House with a perfect 100 rating from Club for Growth.

When Shadegg was elected in 1994 to replace Kyl, who was elected to the Senate that year, most people said he would be another Kyl.  They were wrong.  He’s been much more conservative.

That said, Shadegg has never been viewed as a reactionary.  He is known as one of the most thoughtful and smartest members of the House, in some ways serving as the conscience of House Republicans as they have strayed from the principles of the Contract with America.  He has not been shy about criticizing House Leadership and other House Republicans for profligate spending, corrupting earmarks and a lack of ethics in the House.  And, Shadegg has not been shy about working against President Bush on big issues – having voted against to two major domestic policy issues of President Bush, No Child Left Behind and the Medicare Prescription Drug bill.

Shadegg’s opposition fundamentally changes the game for the supporters of the Senate bill.  Everyone expected the likes of Reps. Tom Tancredo, Steve King, Duncan Hunter and Brian Bilbray to oppose anything that could make it out of the Senate.  But Shadegg’s role in the past with trying to find a middle ground (his Unity Dinners led to passage of a enforcement bill in the House which included more than 700 miles of fencing) and his support of a guest worker program make him an important bellweather in the House.  Shadegg is the recognized leader of conservatives in the House.  As the former Chairman of the Republican Study Committee – the conservative caucus now chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling – Shadegg was responsible for growing it from about 30 members to almost 100, and making conservatives a force to be reckoned with in the House.  With the Senate scheduled to continue debate and even vote on final passage this week, the criticisms of the bill raised by Shadegg sends a clear signal that thoughtful conservatives who Kyl may have been counting on for support aren’t with him.

An interesting thing to watch, according to Hill insiders, is the dynamic between Sen. Kennedy and Speaker Pelosi.  As one congressional staffer said recently, Kennedy is first and foremost a legislator – he likes to get things done.  Pelosi is a “new leftist” who has been following the lead of groups like MoveOn.org and DailyKos who hate Bush so much they want to deny him any kind of accomplishment.  The titanic struggle will be whether Kennedy wins and gets a bill passed out of the Senate and House (it’s widely believed that Bush will sign ANYTHING) or if Pelosi wins and never brings a bill to the House floor.


  1. Thank you Rep. Shadegg,

    The volunteers of the Republican Party here in Arizona have been waiting a long, long time for public support from those who work and serve in Washington.

    All of us have respected your voting record on the issues. It has seemed, however, that the peer pressure within the delegation muted respectful disagreement with those members who have ignored the very people who elected them.

    So, in the spirit of fairness, I want to make a plea to all opponents of this horrible piece of legislation to recognize and appreciate your public support of the grass roots position.

    I remind you, however, that the people who have publicly made “personal attacks” on Senator Kyl have not been Party leaders, but high-profile individuals who have a similar position on the illegal immigration issue.

    Senator Kyl should be extremely appreciative of the public position of State Party Chairman Pullen and Maricopa County Chairman Tuttle for cooling down the boiling cauldron. A public sign of support would seem appropriate.

    If they had “Sprouled” the Senator as they have been “Sprouled”, it would have been much, much worse. Now if the Senator would call off the hatchet men who have been attacking our Party Chairman for the sake of Party Unity and then work to defeat this bill, the worst of this will be behind us all.

  2. Excellent post!

    A most approprate and needed post reminding us to criticize the idea/issue rather than levying personal attacks on individuals.

  3. Hopefully this is a sign that members of our delegation will be working hard to make the Arizona Republican Party a better and more successful unit, and that they will not be participating in the establishment of outside groups, designed to draw financial support away from the State HQ? If not, then we are still going to have a problem! If so, then the Democrats are going to be the ones with a problem…!

  4. Thank you Congressman Shadegg for standing up!

  5. nightcrawler says

    Shadegg is a stand-up guy. Those three points of contention he listed in the Arizona Republic were enough for me to change my mind from supporting the bill to opposing it. While I believe bi-partisan legislation is still necessary, this bill is not the answer in its current form. Thank you John for doing your homework, stripping away the fluff and educating us all.

  6. Hometown Guy says

    Being chastised by George Bush for desiring a nation where the Rule of Law means something, was the last straw for me! The good we have gotten from this arrogant and stubborn man no longer outweighs the negatives. I am also from Texas, and we have a colorful saying illustrating disgust: “I wouldn’t pour water on his butt if it was on fire!”
    That sums up my feelings on Dubya these days. I say that as a lifelong, solid conservative.

    Being as angry as I am, I appreciate the letter from Rep. John Shadegg. As the likely successor to McCain’s senate seat, he has shown political savvy, yes, but also wisdom, in acknowledging the offensive comments of this thoughtless President.

    How sorry I am that I worked for Bush’s election and re-election. There must have been a brighter, more articulate speaker and conservative thinker in this country than this insulting yahoo.

  7. “Pelosi is a “new leftist” who has been following the lead of groups like MoveOn.org and DailyKos who hate Bush so much they want to deny him any kind of accomplishment.”

    Bush does well on his own to deny himself of any accomplishments.

  8. Keen Observer says

    Shadegg is smart and ambitious. He hears the drumbeat of constituent rage and realizes he must act. Yet he can’t stand too far from his seatmates or risks alienating them. This is a slim and taut tightrope he’s navigating. Let’s see how he votes when this monstrosity hits the House, before we fall all over ourselves in heaping accolades.

    He’s always struck me as a decent sort. I sincerely hope he does the right thing.

  9. I find it interesting that now everyone is praising Shadegg – which they should – a member of the very Congressional Delegation of which Lisa James was accused of being a puppet in many of the comment sections on posts in the weeks preceeding the race for party chairman.

  10. Poor AZVoter, still having trouble letting go, eh?

    If Shadegg votes against this bill, he deserves credit for doing so. Some of the folks here don’t seem completely convinced that he is doing it for the principled reason as opposed to the political reason, but they seem generally willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It really doesn’t have anything to do with the race for Chairman. There will be people who voted for Pullen who might get in trouble on this blog and there will be people who voted for James who might get praise on this blog. But these things simply aren’t related.

    As for James, since it is a topic you seem anxious to return to, we can all thank God that she is not our Chairman, because there is no doubt that she would be either silent on this bill or backing it. She would certainly NOT be defending the official positions of the Arizona Republican Party and she would be allowing the party to be divided, weakened, and drained of financial resources. Her loyalty would have been personal to the delegation itself, rather than to the party and its positions.

    Thank heavens we have Randy Pullen doing what is right. As the Washington Times points out, his actions are making our party stronger (http://wpherald.com/articles/5026/1/Grass-roots-opposition-to-illegals-bill-impacts-on-GOP/Grass-roots-GOP-boosted.html). There is no question that the Arizona GOP would be in much worse condition with James at the helm.

    Thanks for allowing us all the opportunity to point this out again! Now please find a topic that isn’t six months old?

  11. Tim,

    Actually, I am having no trouble letting go. I am not even a PC; I had no horse in the race for chairman. I was just pointing out something that I found amusing.

    So, the party isn’t currently “divided, weakened, and drained of financial resources?” You could have fooled me.

    As for your last sentence, was that a question or a request?

  12. Since you are not even a PC, you wouldn’t have a clue as to the strength of the Party structure.

    As to the State Party, their small donor income has over quadrupled since this issue arose. Also, if you will notice, there is consensus from the Party leaders at all levels in Arizona.

    The voices that you hear creating the sense of a rift are the McStain forces under Nathan Sproul’s direction – and he is, for the first time in decades actually contributing to the strength of the Party by energizing and consolidating those who do not want a Party run by for and of McStain.

    As to the Congressional delegation aside, since yu are not involved in the structure, you should know that it has been usual for the senior senator to set the policy and the rest of the delegation to fall in line. Therefore, it is refreshing to see some independence in that area by Congressmen Shadegg and Franks.

  13. GOP PK,

    It’s not really hard for small donor income to “quadruple” if they only raised $12,000 last month.

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