Thursday, June 6, 2013

Partners in Crime?

Yesterday, we took another look at the latest twists and turns in the debate over S 744, the US Senate's "Gang of 8" comprehensive immigration reform bill. Today, we have a new development. Something may finally be hitting the Senate floor soon.

RalstonReports: MT @ezraklein: Reid has filed cloture in the hopes of bringing the immigration bill to the Senate floor on Mon./What will @SenDeanHeller do?

Indeed. What will Senator Dean Heller (R-"TEA" Curious) do? This is what everyone has been asking since last November. But now, the moment of truth is finally arriving.

Unfortunately for Heller and other Senate Republicans "stuck in the middle", their situation is becoming even more awkward. Get ready for another new "TEA" fueled effort to kill CIR. And this time, it may actually be coming from within.

GOP Senator John Cornyn [R-Texas] has been pushing a new immigration compromise that would dramatically strengthen the border security “triggers” that would have to be met to make a path to citizenship operative. The argument is that this is the only way enough Republicans can be enticed to support reform to enable it to pass the Senate in broad numbers. Senate Democratic aides are rejecting Cornyn’s proposal,arguing that it is deliberately designed to make the pathway to citizenship unattainable —in other words, to undermine the core of reform. [...]

Cornyn has undercut Rubio by staking out a position much further to the right of the Gang of Eight compromise that Rubio had been taking (he’s been saying some changes are needed, but not to the degree Cornyn wants). This risks making Rubio look like he isn’t the real guardian of conservative interests in the negotiations. Rubio has already been very sensitive to this perception, which is why he’s been making noise about defecting from the Gang of Eight compromise. Cornyn has just further undercut Rubio’s delicate balancing act.

Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Raul Labrador has walked away from bipartisan talks over immigration reform in the House, because of a dispute over whether undocumented immigrants should have access to health care. It appears undying hatred of Obamacare could scuttle those talks. All this confirms, though, is that it’s probably going to be impossible to get a majority of House Republicans to support comprehensive reform, which means the only route to success probably will turn on whether House GOP leaders will allow it to pass with mostly Democratic votes. That, again, turns on whether House GOP leaders are willing to accept a path to citizenship becoming law or not.

The solution for Democrats is to continue to insist on something close to the Senate “Gang of Eight” compromise, because anything that seriously undermines the path to citizenship is not worth supporting in any case. Ultimately, the prospects for reform turn on whether Republicans will accept a path to citizenship predicated on reasonable conditions —period, full stop. The rest is mostly just noise. Of course, if the answer to that question is No, then reform will die.

And there we have it. If Senator Cornyn succeeds in gaining a critical mass of Senate Republicans behind his new proposal, then CIR likely dies. Supposed "Gang of 8" leader Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has already been sabotaging what's supposed to be his own legislation (!!!) behind the scenes. And now, he has another partner in crime.

So what happens now? That's a good question. Again, CIR will likely die in this Congress if Senator Rubio pushes Senator Cornyn's new amendment. After all, it just reeks of a Trojan Horse. And there's not much House Republicans will appreciate more than a dead Senate immigration bill. After all, Reps. Joe Heck (R) and Mark Amodei (R) have yet to endorse S 744 despite signaling support for CIR earlier this year.

And it all boils down to Republican politicians pandering to the 21st Century Know Nothings. Even with many corporate lobbyists (you know, the other end of the Republican base) advocating CIR, these politicians still fear the wrath of their "TEA" fueled base. So we may soon end up with an unworkable bill that will only be made even more unrealistic once it reaches the House... Or simply nothing.

And that may be what the G-O-TEA partners in crime were hoping for all along...

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