Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 7.22.13

Immigration, Coal, and Zimmerman


I have received quite a few questions about developments on immigration reform.  I believe our immigration system is broken, but do not believe that legislation recently passed by the Senate is the solution.

The Senate passed one nearly 1,200-page bill.  This is a large bill that tries to deal with all of the nation’s immigration issues. 

In contrast, the House of Representatives is taking a step-by-step approach to immigration reform.  Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke) and the Judiciary Committee are holding hearings and briefings on this issue in the effort to ensure that we properly and individually address the various weaknesses in our immigration system.

In order for any legislation to become law, identical language must be passed by both the House and Senate, and then sent to the President for his signature.  However, the legislative process established by our Founding Fathers requires each chamber of Congress to advance its own legislation.  After each has made an independent decision and passed its own solution, the two houses are supposed to confer and work out their differences, if they can.

I do not expect that the Senate’s immigration bill will come before the full House of Representatives, but want to reassure you that I will not support that unfortunate Senate bill should it come before me for a vote. 

Coal is on a Roll in Asia”

A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal highlights Asia’s growing use of coal, with new coal-fired plants being built in places like Malaysia and Vietnam.  According to this piece, “coal demand across Southeast Asia may almost double between 2010 and 2020 to 230 million tons, according to the International Energy Agency,” and “the share of coal-fired power generating capacity in Southeast Asia's energy mix will likely rise to 48% by 2030 from 35% now.” 

That is the opposite of what we are seeing here in the United States under the policies of this Administration.  The Obama Administration’s war on coal is handing Asia and other regions an unfair advantage as they continue ramping up their use of affordable coal to run their factories.  The American people, their businesses, and their jobs are the ones being hurt most by these anti-coal policies.

The article says Asia’s increase in coal use is taking place despite an increase in the supply of natural gas available to the Asian market and even with new gas projects being unveiled throughout the world.  In fairness, in Southeast Asia, where the fastest shift to coal is under way, natural gas costs more than coal. 

Experts have testified that, when the price of natural gas exceeds $4 per Mil. BTUs, coal is the more affordable energy resource.  Natural gas in this country is currently at $3.83, after a 2013 high of $4.17 in April.  History tells us there have been other times when natural gas was cheaper than coal, but that didn’t lead to a precipitous decline in the coal industry.  It is clear that neither historical models nor market circumstances explain the coal industry’s decline.  Instead that decline is being caused by government policies that hurt coal.  I will continue to fight against these harmful policies.

Federalism and George Zimmerman – A Civics Lesson

Anyone looking for me to pass judgment on a case I did not hear the evidence on needs to look elsewhere.  However, the criminal case of George Zimmerman and the fact that the federal government is reviewing the matter even after he was found not guilty by a jury in Florida does provide us with a civics lesson on one of the founding principles of our Republic.

Many people today don’t understand how the federal government can consider charging George Zimmerman with a crime after he was found not guilty at the State level.  This however would not have been considered inappropriate by the Founding Fathers.  When the Republic was founded, the various States were seen as partner States with each State retaining sovereignty.  The Constitution ceded certain specific authorities from each of the sovereign States to a separate but sovereign federal government in Washington.  The separate sovereign concept is often overlooked by the federal government on other important issues, but it does allow the federal government to review facts separately from State action.  

The federal government is a separate sovereign from the State of Florida, and as such could charge George Zimmerman for “offenses” which violate the Federal law even though he was found not guilty of violating Florida law.  It is the principle of separate sovereigns constructed by those that founded our American Republic.

As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office by email, please visit my website at


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