Yesterday the Senate Passed the "Comprehensive Immigration Bill" by a wide margin. The bill had something for everybody with the possible exception of those who wanted the United States borders secured. The border security amendment has holes so large you could drive a space shuttle through one.
It seems that every senator was able to put an exception into the bill that supported some industry (Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) Alaska Seafood provision for example) or some voting blog (Chuck Schumer's Irish immigrants). Perhaps the most frightening provision was revealed by Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the Senate floor). It was a provision that fined small businesses who hired American workers over illegal (provisionally legal) immigrants.
But the bill is passed in the Senate and attention must be turned to the House of Representatives which unlike the Senate has a Republican majority. The real question is "Will The House Stand Firm?" or will they fold under the pressure as they have done so many times before?
Last week I asked a friend, a House GOP aide; if leadership realized that "rubber-stamping" the Senate bill would spit the party apart and perhaps force conservatives to leave the GOP, his answer was the Leadership was "smarter than the base gives them credit for."
I'm not sure if my friends words were that reassuring, but what was calming was the petition of 70+ member of the House GOP Caucus which demanded/forced a caucus meeting were Speaker Boehner was told in no uncertain terms that an immigration bill like the Senates would cause a revolt in the GOP ranks. In that meeting Boehner told the caucus he would not bring the bill to the floor unless it had the support of a majority of the caucus.
The speaker seems to be holding. Yesterday during his weekly press conference he said the Senate bill isn't going anywhere in the house.
“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” the Boehner said before going on to attack the Senate version as too weak on border security.
So what will the house do?
Speaker Boehner and House GOP leadership have three choices:
- Do Nothing: Face it, immigration reform is a key item on the Democratic Agenda but not on the agendas of the American people. The last Rasmussen poll which looked at priority of national issues (published two days ago) had immigration ranked tenth behind economy, health care, jobs, social security, govt. spending, corruption, taxes, education and national security. Boehner could simply agree that this is an important issue but the economy, jobs, and the deficit are more important and the House will take up immigration after they are done with the other nine items.
- Pass their own version of a comprehensive bill and send it to a conference committee. This is both the least likely to happen and the one which frightens the conservative base the most. A bill which comes out of a conference committee (if agreement could be reached) could be considered bi-partisan and there the speaker could face tremendous pressure). Agree or disagree with him, Boehner is not a stupid man. This option has no upside and he will not go this way.
- Piecemeal: This approach gives the speaker the most options and therefore is the most likely approach. He will split the issue into its component parts and bring up each part as a separate bill. In fact yesterday Boehner indicated that this may be the way he goes. "
"Chairman McCaul has done a good job passing a border security bill, Chairman Goodlatte is doing good work over in the Judiciary Committee, and if immigration reform is going to work, it’s essential that the American people have the confidence that it’s being done correctly,” Mr. Boehner said. “That’s how the House will approach this issue.”
The first step will be border security. The house will pass a border security bill which will die in the senate. At the same time the House will ready a bill that fixes our present immigration system and a separate bill with a pathway to citizenship which has to be done eventually because in the end those 11 million illegals aren't going anywhere and I believe can get that through if a border security bill is passed. The speaker will not bring the second two bills through the house until the border security bill passes the house (very unlikely).
That will be his carrot, you pass the secure bill and the house will be ready to pass the next two. But in order for this approach to work each of the bills must be simple, no half ton of paper-type legislation. For example the border security bill should be two pages at the most. This type of fence, being placed at this location, this many more ICE agents to be deployed here, and this kind of tracking program when someone enters the country on a visa so we can tell when they leave. The simplicity and openness will help win over the people (and perhaps a provision to kick John McCain out of the country because I am sick and tired of that nasty old man).Three option for John Boehner with the piecemeal approach being the most likely. I wouldn't worry about anything happening too fast as all of Congress leaves on vacation for the July 4th holiday, comes back for a week and then goes into recess till September.
When the House comes back in September their first two priorities will be the debt ceiling and the budget (and don't forget the ongoing Scandalabra). It will be very surprising if the House takes up immigration in a major way before the clock strikes 2014.
Stay calm about the bill passed yesterday because the gang of eight had their moment in the sun, that monstrosity isn't going anywhere. I would recommend that you start putting pressure on your House Rep. about immigration. They are "closer" to the people (and to reelection). Make sure you (and everyone you know) tells them how you feel about Immigration, border security and amnesty, so when/if the House does raise the issue your Congressman is representing your interests.