Good News/Bad News on Immigration

So the good news for supporters of comprehensive immigration reform is that a cloture motion clearing the way for final passage of the revised Gang of Eight bill passed 68-32. That’s no mean accomplishment, considering the gyrations sponsors had to go through to get to that point without some political implosion.

The bad news is that 32 Republicans voted against cloture. So replacing the goal of getting 70 senators to vote for the bill, we’ve got the reality of 70% of Republican senators voting against it. The worse news is that there is no positive “momentum” among House Republicans for doing anything other than slow-walking their own unacceptable-to-Democrats immigration bills through the Judiciary Committee. As TPM’s Brian Beutler acutely observed this morning, even if John Boehner intends ultimately to spring the Senate bill–which contains concessions to conservatives that have already strained the reform coalition–on the House, he definitely won’t do it until after he pays lip-service to the House GOP’s own efforts. And he’s facing new threats from conservatives that violating the Hastert Rule will cost him his gavel.

Perhaps the most ominous new note was sounded by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), the former House Gang of Eight member whose support for immigration reform was initially greeted as a sign that even Tea Folk might come around:

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said Republicans are “running around like chickens with our heads cut off thinking that we have to do [immigration reform] for political reasons.” He said the farm bill fiasco last week was “very instructive” for Republicans, arguing that the legislation failed because GOP leaders relied on Democrats.

“So our leadership needs to take a lesson from this: Stop negotiating with Democrats,” he said. “Start doing what is the right policy — the right conservative policy for America.”

I sincerely wish I could report as much good news as bad news on immigration reform today. But even at this long-awaited high point, it just ain’t looking good.

Washington Monthly - Donate Today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

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.