Odds for Immigration Reform Continue to Drop

Since we are presumably going to have to pretend for a while that comprehensive immigration reform is a lively proposition in the House, it’s worth noticing the several very fundamental ways in which the Gang of Eight legislation is unacceptable to a majority of House Republicans:

1) It has no “hard triggers” to ensure that “enforcement” precedes legalization;
2) It leaves too much of the enforcement (and verification of enforcement) in the hands of the satanic Obama administration;
3) It includes a “path to citizenship” after legalization’
4) It does not include maximum collateral attacks on Obamacare and other “socialist” inducements to illegal immigration.

Is it possible to strike a “bipartisan compromise” between the Senate bill and something that could be supported by a majority of House Republicans? No. Aside from the various interests in both parties and in both chambers who privately would be just fine with a failure to enact a new law, there’s growing evidence that the Senate-passed bill goes as far–or maybe farther–as traditional supporters of immigration reform are willing to go. Indeed, it may be time to become skeptical about the assumption that all (or very nearly all) House Democrats would vote for the Senate bill.

So once again, we’re back to the only plausible scenario for final enactment of the legislation being a decision by Boehner and his leadership team to call for a vote on the Senate bill violating Boehner’s own serial pledges to respect the “Hastert Rule” and then passage by a narrow majority made narrower to the point of extreme peril by conservatives not wanting to be on record supporting this bill and liberals unhappy with the compromises.

Knowing this, House conservatives will spend as much time extorting two, three, four or more additional assurances from Boehner that he’s not going to “betray” them as they will developing a bill guaranteed to repel Democrats and run out the clock. But we’ll hear all sorts of misleading reports of “progress” in the House before the end-game becomes obvious.

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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.