The House is in order, but the Senate is a mess.
That was one of the messages U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Augusta, gave Saturday in a speech at the Columbia County Republican Party's monthly breakfast.
A near-capacity crowd gave an enthusiastic reception to Norwood, especially when he said he has been off of oxygen for more than 120 days since a lung transplant in 2005.
"I'm doing well," he said. "I wouldn't say that I'm 100 percent, but I'm 90 percent and can do anything I want to do" - including traveling to Afghanistan recently to visit troops fighting the war on terrorism.
Norwood said that immigration is among the major problems facing the country, and he blamed the U.S. Senate for creating a bill that would result in amnesty for 20 million illegal immigrants.
"It's the worst piece of legislation I've seen," Norwood said, "and I've seen a lot." He pointed out that Georgia's senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, voted against the bill, but blamed "Northeast Republicans" for allying with Democrats to pass it from the Senate.
Among the more objectionable provisions, he said, is one that gives education assistance to immigrants. "If my grandson wanted to attend the University of South Carolina - God forbid! - he would pay more in out-of-state tuition than an illegal immigrant from Saudi Arabia who slipped across the border," Norwood said.
The bill, which passed in the Senate, won't pass the House, Norwood pledged. House Republicans are countering with legislation that would secure the borders and require illegal immigrants to turn themselves in to "Ellis Island" centers around the country or be declared felons, while also increasing law enforcement pressure on employers hiring illegals.
Norwood commented on his recent vote against renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and a failed attempt by members of Georgia's delegation to require the bill's oversight provisions be applied to all 50 states.
"We don't deserve to be under it 25 more minutes, much less 25 more years," he said, contending that Georgia has taken great strides in improving minority representation in government.
Norwood joked, too, about the recent defeat of a fellow member of the Georgia House delegation: Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was beaten in the Aug. 8 Democratic primary runoff.
"Actually, I am going to miss her," he said. "Cynthia was the greatest recruiting poster for the Republican Party."
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