Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Immigration: Dead or Undead?

Greg Sargent has been doing great reporting and analysis on immigration, and today he reports on a third Republican Member who has signed on to the House Democrats' bill.

There are important differences between immigration and the clean CR needed to re-open the government earlier this month, but in many respects the way to look at it is similar. A handful of Republicans willing to go public with their support for comprehensive immigration reform isn't likely to get a bill to the House floor. Even twenty of them, which would be enough for a House majority (if Democrats are unanimous, which may not be the case) wouldn't be enough to force Boehner's hand. It's easy to imagine two dozen Republicans voting for a comprehensive bill; it's a lot harder to imagine them breaking with their party on procedural votes (or a discharge petition) to force that bill to the floor.

Which means that it all comes down to the same thing is always has: what do the bulk of mainstream conservatives in the Republican conference really want?

The biggest difference between immigration (and VAWA, on the one hand) and the clean CR a few weeks ago (and the fiscal cliff deal) is that in this case, there is no eventual must-pass situation. So really mainstream conservatives can do whatever they want; the only limitation on them is that if they do want the bill to pass, at least a handful of them may have to actually vote for it. In that sense, a period in which pro-immigration Republicans come out for a bill may be useful, since every one them is one "yes" vote that those who want a bill over their "no" vote do not have to supply.

And remember: if there is a fairly large group who wants a bill to pass over their public opposition, they're hardly going to tell reporters that they're in it. Since that sort of defeats the purpose. So both the group who sincerely opposes it and almost all of the group who actually wants it to pass are going to tell the press that they oppose it. Right up to the point where it passes. If it does!

In other words, we're back to where we've been on this all year: we really don't know whether the bill is dead or undead. It all depends on what mainstream conservatives want, and while they may tell Republican leadership, they probably aren't going to tell the press.

5 comments:

  1. "if there is a fairly large group who wants a bill to pass over their public opposition"

    I'm curious what the reasoning behind such a position would be? It seems like it would give them the worst of both worlds - their base would be disappointed and Hispanics would continue to distrust their party.

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    Replies
    1. It gives the party as a whole the worst of both worlds, but it gives the individual members a great deal - a bill they want to pass passes and they can pander to their base by 'standing up to' leadership.

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    2. It's not clear whether it would be good for the party as a whole, but most of them probably think so.

      The theory is that if immigration is eliminated as a top of the agenda issue, then Latino voters would vote on the basis of other things -- which would put many of them in play even if they didn't "trust" the GOP.

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  2. I think that from a political and a policy view his is an incredibly hard issue to tackle. It seems to me that while they probably recognize they need to pass something, the sweet spot for them is a bill that offers legalization but not citizenship.

    However, offering legalization but not citizenship for now is essentially conceding the battle either now or over the long term. Dems can pass a road to citizenship in conference. If not, the legislation creates an even more favorable landscape for them to bludgeon republicans over the long term.

    So, for me this goes back to whether Republicans can stomach a road to citizenship or not.

    If they do stomach it and choose to go down the road to legalization, there's also the issue of whether the Dems are going to help them with it. I think they probably do, but it's not a given.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think that from a political and a policy view his is an incredibly hard issue to tackle. It seems to me that while they probably recognize they need to pass something, the sweet spot for them is a bill that offers legalization but not citizenship.

    However, offering legalization but not citizenship for now is essentially conceding the battle either now or over the long term. Dems can pass a road to citizenship in conference. If not, the legislation creates an even more favorable landscape for them to bludgeon republicans over the long term.

    So, for me this goes back to whether Republicans can stomach a road to citizenship or not.

    If they do stomach it and choose to go down the road to legalization, there's also the issue of whether the Dems are going to help them with it. I think they probably do, but it's not a given.

    ReplyDelete

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