Gregg's stances on immigration similar to Obama's
By Bob Cusack
The Hill (Washington, DC), January 30, 2009
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who is under consideration to be nominated as Commerce secretary, has supported contentious immigration legislation that sharply divided his party.
President Obama's Commerce secretary is expected to play a major role in immigration reform discussions. Gregg has attracted criticism in conservative circles for his stance on immigration, including a vote in 2006 for a bill that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) called 'the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history.' The legislation, which would have allowed millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the country and ultimately earn citizenship, later died in conference.
In June of 2007, Gregg and 63 other senators backed a motion to support proceeding to debate on another wide-ranging immigration bill that his many of his Republican colleagues condemned as offering 'amnesty' to illegal immigrants. That bill also failed to clear Congress.
At the time, Gregg said, 'Today I voted in support of debating immigration reform, one of the biggest issues facing our country. The bill in its present form needs to be fixed, but so does our immigration reform system.'
Gregg has also teamed up with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) on a bill that seeks to address H2B visa shortages for seasonal workers.
Gregg, who has clashed with Democrats on fiscal matters, has repeatedly vowed to work on a bipartisan basis to tackle H-1B visas – for high-tech workers – and other immigration issues.
But some of Gregg's votes will not sit well with some backers of comprehensive reform.
The senior senator from New Hampshire supported building a border security fence along the Mexican border and in 2007, he voted against cloture on Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) bill that would have provided a path to legal residency for children of illegal immigrants and made them eligible for federal student-loan and work-study programs. The motion needed 60 votes, but fell eight short. Twelve Republicans voted for cloture on that motion, as did Obama.
Gregg and the White House have declined to comment on whether the senator will join the Obama administration. If Gregg is appointed and confirmed, Democrats would, in all likelihood, pick up another seat in the upper chamber.
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) would select Gregg's replacement.
Earlier this month, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) withdrew as Obama's Commerce secretary amid a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to Richardson's political donors.