The GOP heads for a collision on immigration.

The GOP heads for a collision on immigration.

The GOP heads for a collision on immigration.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 17 2006 3:20 AM

Party Mix

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox, and Washington Post all lead with the Senate defeating two amendments to restrict the immigration bill. The Los Angeles Timesalso leads with the immigration debate but emphasizes House GOP leaders sticking by their guns and their tough, enforcement-only immigration bill. "I understand what the president's position is," said House Majority Leader John Boehner. "I have made it pretty clear that I have supported the House position." USA Todayleads with the  best job market for new college grads "in years."

One of the defeated amendments, sponsored by a Democrat, would have canceled the immigration bill's guest-worker provision. The other amendment would have shut off the path to citizenship until the government—somehow—secures the borders, or at least certifies them as such.

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Everybody flags the across-the-board thumbs down conservatives gave the president's speech. "It is a nonstarter with the American people, and the Republican Party will pay the price at the polls," said Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

As the Journal notes, "there is little hope" that the House and Senate will reconcile their bills before the November elections. One Republican rep told the WSJ that the "votes are there" in the House to pass a bill as liberal as the Senate's. "The question," he said, "is will the leadership bring it to the floor."

The WP off-leads a poll showing the president's approval rating down five points in a month to 33 percent. As with other papers' recent polls, that's the lowest point recorded for the president. Dems didn't come out glowing, but the poll does show them leading Republicans on every issue queried, including terrorism.

The NYT off-lead announces, "C.I.A. MAKING RAPID STRIDES FOR REGROWTH." The story is full of positive stats that have "not been previously disclosed": The agency, said unnamed agency officials, is on its way to tripling the number training officers in five years. The CIA has also opened "more than 20" stations abroad.

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A front-page piece in the Post says the U.S. is "secretly supporting secular warlords" in Somalia who have been fighting Islamist groups in Mogadishu. About 150 people were killed in fighting over the weekend spearheaded by the warlords. "We would prefer that the U.S. work with the transitional government and not with criminals," said Somalia's transitional prime minister, though some consider him a warlord too. One analyst offered a larger perspective: "If the real problem is Somalia, then what have we done to change the situation inside Somalia? Are we funding schools, health care or helping establish an effective government?"

By the way, last weekend the NYT flagged—and stuffed—the U.S.'s apparent support for the warlords.

Everybody mentions that Verizon became the second company in two days to deny USAT's report that Verizon gave the NSA customers' phone records. USAT responds with ... a letter from its chief of communications.

In any case, there seems to be some exquisitely crafted spin going on. Because, as the NYT puts it, a "senior government official confirmed" that the NSA has "access to records of most telephone calls in the United States." The Times hints at a possible explanation for the discrepancy: The spooks are tracking only long-distance calls, and Verizon and BellSouth hand those calls off to other providers, such as, say, AT&T, which is the one company named that has stayed mum.

Only the LAT fronts the White House agreeing to brief the full Senate and House intel committees on the NSA's domestic operation. Far down, the Times notices a potential "ancillary benefit" for the administration: Because of classification rules, those briefed on the program "will likely have to be more circumspect in their public discussions of it, blunting their ability to criticize it." As one Republican aide put it, "When they know about it, they are obligated to be quiet." The story's headline: "BUSH BACKS OFF WIRETAP SECRECY."

Three GIs were killed in separate attacks in Iraq. About 20 civilians were killed by a car bomb next to an oil tanker. In Ramadi, the U.S. faced "close-quarters combat with a large force of insurgents."

USAT reports on government-made flashcards to help potential citizens learn about the U.S. Question 80 asks, "Name one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment." Freedom of speech, religion, assembly and the right to petition the government all make the list. You know what's missing?