Monday, October 28, 2013

Finish the Job

Last Thursday, President Obama (once again) asked Congress to finish the job on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). And he wasn't alone. There's (still) widespread support in Nevada and across the nation for CIR.

So why can't we count on Congress to finish the job? Once again, the usual G-O-TEA suspects just don't want to budge... On this, or on anything else, really. And now, they're receiving an assist from the very Republican who was supposed to deliver his party (and their votes) for CIR!

The senator's change of heart is an ominous sign for reform because there is no bipartisan consensus on immigration reform without a path to citizenship for the 11 million people living in the country illegally. The House Republican majority opposes such a provision. Proponents had hoped the House would approve smaller, piecemeal bills and move to initiate a conference committee to reconcile the chambers' differences -- the normal legislative process. Conservatives quickly saw the strategy as a ploy to enact "amnesty" and moved to close the door on conference.

Now, they have Rubio's support.

"[E]arlier this year, Senator [Marco] Rubio [R-Florida] put aside his personal preference for a piecemeal approach and reached across the aisle to craft a bipartisan solution in the Senate. And unlike many of the proponents of reform in the Democratic party, he did so despite strong opposition within his own party and at a significant and well documented political price," [spokesman Alex] Conant said. "But sufficient support for that approach simply does not exist at this time. And in fact it has only eroded further as evidenced by the fact that virtually every House Republican working on a bipartisan comprehensive bill has since abandoned that effort."

The ambitious Florida senator saw his standing diminish among conservative voters after he supported the Senate bill. Opposing conference on the Senate bill leaves little, if any, room to pass reform through a divided Congress as the broad coalitions that hold together the Senate legislation would splinter if any major components are excluded. House Republicans have resisted President Barack Obama's repeated calls for reviving the stalled effort, and lack an internal consensus on how to proceed on an incremental basis.

So now, the devolution is complete. Marco Rubio has been reduced to opposing his own bill. And he's doing so in a last ditch effort to win back the love and adoration of the 21st Century Know Nothings who call the shots in today's G-O-TEA.

But wait, Senator Rubio said something can still happen. Congress just has to do it "step by step". Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) said the same thing at a Summerlin area town hall in August. Yet so far, we've seen nothing emerge from the G-O-TEA run House.

And that's for a reason. Despite Heck's and Rubio's assurance that the House Republican Caucus is open to piecemeal immigration bills, House Republican "leaders" have basically conceded that they can't accomplish anything because they can't get their own caucus to quit its manufactured crisis habit.

So is it all over now? Not so fast. None other than Joe Heck is now condemning House Republican "leaders" for dropping CIR like some unwanted hot potato. And in a major surprise, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California) announced over the weekend that he's the first Republican cosponsor for the House Democratic CIR bill (modeled after the bipartisan Senate bill)... And he expects more Republicans to come on board.

So immigration reform isn't dead yet... But its survival and ultimate success now depends on House Republicans joining with Democrats to pass what alrwady passed the Senate in June. Rep. Heck is now talking a good game in chastising his own party for being so willing to give up. But in order to finish the job, Joe Heck needs to follow Jeff Denham's lead and match those words with real action.

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