Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The visa update 

An update on one of my pet topics - and I know that some of you were interested last year to know where it's all going:

"Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania introduced legislation on Thursday, February 10, 2005, which would include Poland in the Visa Waiver Program. Co-sponsoring the bill is Maryland's Senator Barbara Mikulski.

"At his press conference, Senator Santorum said that his bill is identical to the one he introduced in September 2004 which did not pass as it did not clear the Democratic side. He is optimistic that this time it will pass due to the growing support in the U.S. House of Representatives and with the public support of the Bush Administration...

"Earlier this week, two bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives which would include Poland in the Visa Waiver Program. Connecticut Congresswoman Nancy Johnson reintroduced her bill which is identical in language with Senator Santorum's bill. A different version was introduced by Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston which would provide for a contingency step to help Poland meet the 3% overstay rate. Congressman Dan Lipinski of Chicago is a co-sponsor of both bills. Illinois Congressman Shimkus is co-sponsoring the Johnson bill."
(hat tip: Dan Foty) This issue - that loyal allies such as Poles have to have visa, while Germans and the French don't - has acquired a hugely symbolic status in Poland. Resolving this anomaly once and for all will go a long way towards showing the alliance matters. Last time it was the Klansman Byrd himself who threw a spanner in the works; I hope that this time around the Democrats - the self-styled party of ethnic minorities - will be smarter.


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