Monday, June 17, 2013

Turning Point... Or Breaking Point?

Earlier today, the US Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's xenophobic voter registration restrictions added an exclamation point to Republican angst over comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Already, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is proposing an amendment to S 744 to restore Arizona’s Proposition 200 and allow more states to follow suit on voter suppression registration restrictions. And that's not all. In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced he won't allow a CIR bill onto the House floor unless it has majority Republican support. And here's why he's now saying this.

The radicalized House GOP, bolstered by gerrymandered-induced safe districts, are hell-bent on killing Senate efforts to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants. On the other hand, the Republican establishment understands that their long-term prognosis is poor unless they can start eating away at Democratic base supporters in immigrant communities (Asian and Latino, mostly, but pretty much everything else as well).

Remember, of the 2.4 million new Americans in 2012, only seven percent were white, and all of those were immigrants.It's widely assumed that immigration reform can pass the House with Democratic support and a few dozen Republican defectors, but only if Boehner ditches the Hastert Rule one more time. But after blowing off the Hastert Rule on a handful of legislative efforts, such as the fiscal cliff nonsense, his charges are restless. Few think Boehner could survive one more perceived betrayal.

So how firm is Boehner's insistance that he won't violate the Hastert Rule? We'll find out soon enough. It comes down to this formulation:

What's more important to John Boehner? 
A) His speakership 
B) The future of his party

Remember when Rep. Joe Heck suggested he can support CIR? Where is he now? As long as Speaker Boehner prevents a CIR bill from even reaching the House floor, Heck will never have to deliver on his promise the opportunity to vote for reform.

And then, there's this.

Last week, Senator Dean Heller (R) was sending mixed signals as he introduced benign amendments to S 744... Then threw a temper tantrum when Senator Harry Reid (R) sidetracked his amendments along with the more malicious ones. So now, Nevada AFL-CIO is taking to the airwaves as other immigrant rights activists hit the streets (and phones) to demand that Senator Heller (along with Rep. Heck) step up and support S 744.

As summer fast approaches, so is the fate of CIR in the 113th Congress. We are quickly reaching what will ultimately be either a critical turning point or a key breaking point. Either just enough Republicans will feel the urge to embrace long term political survival for themselves and their party by passing S 744... Or a critical mass of Republicans will buckle to 21st Century Know Nothing demands to kill the bill in order to survive the next primary.

And keep in mind that Heller, Heck, and Rep. Mark Amodei are at the center of this "TEA" tinged melodrama. As go their votes, so goes the fate of immigration reform in this Congress. So what will they choose? Will they listen to the vast majority of Nevadans and Americans? Or will they keep drinking the toxic "TEA"?

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