Late last week, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) confirmed that comprehensive immigration reform is dead, at least for the rest of 2013. And what about next year? The odds appear poor – after all, it’s not as if far-right House members are suddenly going to become flexible in an election year – and took a turn for the worse this morning.
House Speaker John Boehner says he will not allow any House-passed immigration legislation to be blended with the Senate’s sweeping reform bill, further quashing the chances of comprehensive immigration reform legislation being signed into law anytime soon.
“We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday.
The general idea has been that the Senate passed its bipartisan bill in June, which in turn presented the House with some choices. The Republican-led chamber could pass the Senate bill; they could kill it; or they could pass an alternative bill and go to a conference committee for bicameral negotiations.
House GOP leaders have already ruled out a vote on the popular Senate bill – in an up-or-down vote, the legislation would almost certainly pass – and as of this morning, approving a rival bill and searching for a compromise is out, too.
So what’s left? Boehner told reporters he’s open to a piecemeal approach, voting on smaller immigration bills that far-right Republicans might consider tolerable. But remember, if going to conference is out of the question, then success is probably impossible, at least until there’s a Democratic majority in the House at some point in the future.
Meanwhile, Benjy Sarlin reports this morning that some Republicans are pondering the “fallout” from GOP lawmakers again killing immigration reform, and “they’re starting to get nervous.”
As the prospects for reform weaken, it’s likely that more affected Republicans will align themselves with the pro-immigration caucus. That could lend the reform cause momentum. But it could just as easily convince House leaders that the best way forward is to appease the tea party by killing the legislation while encouraging endangered members to disagree – enabling them to run on their public dissent.
That approach, perhaps the most likely one, might work out in the short term. In the long term, every day, month, and year Republicans find an excuse not to enact immigration reform only digs the national GOP into a deeper hole.
While GOP officials ponder this, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reminded Boehner this morning that passing a reform bill would be “easy” – the “votes to pass” are already in place – if only he’d bring the bill to the floor and let the House exercise its will.