Thursday, June 27, 2013

Are They Listening?

Not too long ago, this was the scene on the US Senate floor. Oh, yes. That's right. S 744 comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) finally passed.

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So it's a done deal... Right? Wrong.

Its key tradeoff is a plan to send thousands of agents to the U.S.-Mexico border while simultaneously placing millions of current immigrants on a pathway to citizenship. But it also creates a highly regulated guest worker program, and a high-skilled worker visa program, and strict rules governing how immigrants already in the country can turn the promise of citizenship into reality.

But the House isn’t poised to pass anything similar, let alone adopt the Senate bill full stop. On Thursday, [House Speaker John] Boehner [R-Ohio] reiterated, and expanded, a standard for passing immigration reform legislation that will result in either a narrower, more conservative bill than Boehner outlined in November or no bill at all.

“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” he told reporters. “We’re going to do our own bill through regular order, and there’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people. For any legislation, including a conference report, to pass the house, it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of a majority of our members.”

Far from making progress toward a “comprehensive” bill, Boehner boasted of piecemeal efforts underway in standing committees of the House. “Chairman McCaul’s done a good job passing a border security bill, Chairman Goodlatte’s doing good work in the Judiciary Committee.”

If House Republicans can ultimately reach negotiations with the Senate, it will require real movement on their part to agree to anything resembling comprehensive reform that also has the support of a majority of their conference.

Ultimately, Senator Dean Heller (R-46%) voted for S 744, along with 13 other Senate Republicans. So there's that. However, it's still no guarantee for securing the support of Reps. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) and/or Mark Amodei (R-Carson City).

And right now, it looks like both of them are still hiding behind House G-O-TEA leaders' intransigence on cooperating on CIR. Even now, even as the Senate just easily passed a CIR bill, they still won't budge. Already, a key Gang of 8 Republican (and 2008 GOP Presidential Nominee) is begging his House colleagues to reconsider their knee-jerk opposition to reform.

TPM also asked [Senator John] McCain [R-Arizona] if he believes it’s important for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has all but rejected the Senate immigration bill, to stand by his principle that any legislation must have the support of a majority of House Republicans in order to come to a vote.

“I can’t tell the Speaker what to do,” he said. “I trust him and he’s a friend of mine and I have great confidence in his leadership.”

McCain responded to claims by the National Republican Senatorial Committee that it plans to campaign against some Democrats over their immigration reform votes.

“All I can say is that maybe they ought to look back at what happened in 2012 and 2008 with the Hispanic voters and then maybe they ought to reevaluate what they are saying,” he said. “There’s plenty of issues that separate Republicans and Democrats but … 70, 80 percent, depending on which polls you judge by, are in favor of what we’re trying to do.”

Are they listening? Are they willing to listen?

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