Friday, June 28, 2013

Immigration reform still unlikely

By Frank Moraes 

(Ed. note: Well, good for the Senate, or at least for the Democratic majority along with a handful of Republicans. But now it goes to the House, where crazy-ass Republican extremism prevails, where the Republican leadership is divided, with Speaker Boehner barely clinging to power, and where it will likely die. Maybe there's enough establishment Republican support to give Boehner cover, and so maybe the bill can pass with Democratic votes and a few Republicans on board, but it's awfully hard to move anything forward when the majority party is insane, so much so that it won't even support a flawed, Republican-oriented bill that Ronald Reagan would have backed and that includes a pile of throw-ins for conservatives. -- MJWS)

I'm sure you've heard that the Senate managed to pass their little immigration reform bill with a vote of 68-32. Let's think about that for a second. That means that 32 of the 46 Republican senators voted against the bill: 70%. This is what passes for a huge bipartisan compromise. And notice: the bill itself is extremely conservative. Bernie Sanders voted for it, but with a great many misgivings. Yet despite giving in on all kinds of issues, the Democrats only managed to get 14 Republicans to vote for it. And these were senators: the more moderate of the congressional Republicans.

Now it moves to the House where many of our liberal friends in the pundit world are cautiously optimistic. Somehow, they think that winning 30% Republican support in the Senate will put pressure on the House to pass the bill. Maybe! Stranger things have happened. But Dylan Matthews wrote an article this afternoon that made me think it is highly unlikely, "Immigration Reform Has Passed the Senate. Here's How it Passes the House." In the article, he provided three ways that the immigration reform might make its way through the House.

The first way is that the House "Gang of Seven" bill might be able to get majority Republican support. But it contains a path to citizenship, so that isn't going to happen. The second way is for one or more of Bob Goodlatte's proposals -- none of which include a path to citizenship -- might be able to pass. Then that bill could go to conference with the Senate. If the resulting bill had a path to citizenship (which is hardly certain), it would only allow the Republicans to vote for a path to citizenship once. This is downright funny. Does Matthews really think that representatives are going to be able to sneak one vote past their constituencies? They would be primaried as much for one vote (especially the one that caused the bill to become law) as they are for a dozen votes. The third way is for the House to get a discharge petition and force a vote. The problem here is that they've tried to get discharge petitions before and have failed. There would be hell to pay by Republicans who signed it.

For the umpteenth time: nobody, including me, knows what is going to happen. But this just doesn't look good for the immigration bill. I'm not wedded to it either way. I think it would be good to provide a path to citizenship for all of these people. It is the right thing to do. But the bill has a lot of baggage and the path to citizenship is ridiculously long and punitive.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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