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Inviting Colbert to testify was the real joke

By Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Special to CNN
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz that inviting comedian to testify was a distraction
  • Pelosi's claim that Colbert would draw attention to issue shows she doesn't get it, he says
  • He says Democratic-controlled Congress has done nothing to solve immigration issue
  • Chaffetz: Voters living with consequences of inaction; they deserve leadership, not comedy

Editor's note: Rep. Jason Chaffetz is a freshman Republican from Utah.

(CNN) -- Arguably the best fake newsman on television, comedian Stephen Colbert knows how to deliver a one-liner. But his invitation to testify before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on immigration was the real joke.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited Colbert's "ability to bring attention to an important issue like immigration" in declaring the hearing appropriate. This helps explain why voters may ensure she is fired as speaker in November. She simply doesn't get it.

Does anyone believe that the real problem with immigration is a lack of attention to the issue? Ever since Arizona and other states began addressing immigration on their own, there has been no shortage of media attention. The fact that Congress has failed to do its fundamental job of adequately securing the borders and enforcing the law is lost on no one.

The real question is: What is Congress doing to fix it? The answer: Nothing.

Video: Mr. Colbert goes to Capitol Hill
Video: Colbert shows serious side
Video: Colbert submits colonoscopy

In the 21 months I have served on the Immigration Subcommittee, we have met 11 times. Not once have we marked up what I would consider a substantive bill to address meaningfully our current immigration policy.

Although I have sponsored and co-sponsored more than a dozen bills and resolutions on immigration none has ever been given time before the subcommittee. Instead, we have considered private relief bills and extensions of the status quo and discussed procedural issues.

Partisanship is not the problem. One of the resolutions I sponsored had 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats on board as original co-sponsors and now has over 60 co-sponsors. The resolution would make E-Verify mandatory for all employers, provide sufficient border infrastructure and manpower; and reject amnesty and any legal status that pardons those here in violation of our laws.

Somehow, the Congress hasn't found time to discuss that legislation, either. Instead, the Democrats brought in Colbert.

I skipped the Colbert hearing and returned to Utah to attend the viewing of a Utah soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. As much as I enjoy the comedy of Stephen Colbert, I don't believe C-SPAN is the place to watch it.

The entire fiasco only highlights the fact that during a time when Democrats control the House, the Senate and the presidency, the Subcommittee on Immigration has done virtually nothing.

Meaningful action on immigration reform has been paralyzed in part by broad disagreement over the issue of "amnesty" Disagreements center on what constitutes amnesty and whether current proposals by advocates for legalization of illegal immigrants represent an amnesty akin to what passed in 1986.

But there is plenty of common ground on other immigration issues. Most of us on the subcommittee would agree that we need to fix legal immigration. It can take decades to get through the process legally. That doesn't work for anyone. Yet nothing has changed.

If the Colbert hearing was an attempt to distract voters from recognizing how little has actually been done, the strategy backfired. Voters live every day with the consequences of how little has been done. They deserve leadership in Congress that will take the issue of immigration seriously instead of turning it into a comedy bit.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jason Chaffetz.