Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) talked to msnbc's Alex Wagner yesterday and raised a point I hadn't heard elsewhere about the politics of immigration reform.
"Chuck Schumer said yesterday, for example, that any bill without a pathway to citizenship is dead in the Senate. So if Chuck Schumer's not going to accept anything unless he gets 100 percent of what he wants, then he's the one who's killing immigration reform, he's the one who's seeing that 80 percent is not enough," Labrador said.
Wagner noted the fact that the Senate bill has broad, bipartisan support from Republican leaders and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, adding, "And you're going to blame Democrats?" Labrador responded, "Yeah, if Chuck Schumer does not accept the solution from the House, if he says that 80 percent is not good enough for him because he wants 100 percent, then it is his fault."
There are a few angles to keep in mind here. The first is that Labrador, like many House Republicans, is confused about the nature of the Senate bill. Neither Schumer nor any other Democrat looked at the comprehensive legislation has "100 percent" of what they wanted -- rather, it was a bipartisan compromise, written with several conservative Republicans. What Labrador is arguing is that Dems accept a compromise of a compromise, while the House GOP makes no concessions whatsoever. That's plainly silly, whether he understands the debate well enough to realize these details or not.
Second, Labrador seems to believe that a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is just another provision that Democrats should be prepared to trade away for the sake of a deal. It's not. Rather, this is the point of working on immigration reform.
And finally, there's just a hint of desperation here, which will matter quite a bit in the coming months.
The Senate produced a popular, bipartisan bill, comprehensive bill that doubles the border patrol, shrinks the deficit, boosts the economy, improves the finances of the Social Security and Medicare systems, and help private-sector employers. It enjoys the support of the White House, business leaders, GOP strategists, leaders from the Latino community, and a clear majority of the country.
Labrador and his friends are poised to kill it, and they haven't come up with a reason why. And so, the scramble is on to avoid the inevitable blame when they're caught standing over immigration reform with a smoking gun.
It's Schumer's fault. It's Obama's fault. It's the Affordable Care Act's fault. It's Rubio's fault. Maybe it's Reagan's fault. For the GOP, the demise of immigration reform belongs with everyone except those who will be responsible for the demise of immigration reform.
This is a fight Republicans will lose. I'm not sure this has sunk in yet for the party's rank-and-file members.