Put It Right Up There on the House Agenda

On Twitter Sean Trende asks why everyone is so sure congressional Republicans won’t respond to the Shelby County decision by cooperating to “repair” Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, since so many of them voted for extending it in 2006.

I responded by noting (1) there was battle royal within the congressional GOP in 2006 before a corporate decision was made to go along with the Bush administration’s call for avoiding a partisan fight on this subject, and (2) this is a very different Republican Party.

More to the point, however: there is no reason whatsoever to think congressional Republicans are going to cooperate in a “fix” of Section 4 until we hear from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner that they want to make it a priority. When that happens (and it could happen if GOP strategists decide that advancing a “fix” that virtually eliminates Section 5 coverage makes more sense than just accepting the Court’s decision as making it a dead letter), then we can talk.

It does occur to me, however, that under the same theory whereby it is suggested that House Republicans might get out of the way and let House Democrats (with a smattering of Republicans) enact comprehensive immigration reform, it’s theoretically possible, for much of the same rationale of not wanting to get blamed for killing legislation important to minority voters, that House Republicans could “let” Democrats restore Sections 4 and 5.

We should all be able to agree, however, that this emphatically is not the kind of agenda that conservative “base” voters want from “their” U.S. House of Representatives. So psychologically, the advent of a Democratic drive to “fix” the Voting Rights Act may make it even harder for congressional Republicans to quietly cooperate on immigration as well. All sorts of conservative tripwires are being touched, and by the August recess at the latest, a major RINO hunt should be underway wherever Republicans gather.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.