Immigration Reform 2013: House GOP Refuse to Hear Gang of 8's Bill
"Sí se puede" was the chant of the audience after a Senate committee passed the Gang of 8's immigration bill earlier this week. It is also expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate. Nonetheless, the House GOP has already put the brakes on it.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and other top lawmakers said in a joint statement on Thursday that, "The House remains committed to fixing our broken immigration system, but we will not simply take up and accept the bill that is emerging in the Senate if it passes. Rather, through regular order, the House will work its will and produce its own legislation."
The House GOP is not done playing partisan politics when it comes to immigration reform. Despite this out-sized commitment to immigration reform their actions have been peace-meal. The House is working on several aspects of the immigration debate but all of them have extremely narrow focuses. The E-Verify employment verification system and legislation for agricultural immigrants are two of the more widely supported examples of House immigration measures.
As I had earlier predicted, the House had always planned to block the bipartisan Senate bill and then propose their paltry saving-face immigration measures as consolation.
ABC News' Jordan Fabian surmises that the clearly factious nature of Republican politics is likely to complicate the passage of bipartisan reform further. Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor are far more likely to accept compromises on immigration reform. Infuriatingly racist Congressmen like Steven King, Steve Stockman, and Louie Gohmert are prepared to "fight tooth and nail against" any concessions for immigrants.
Google search suggestions when trying to look up Rep. Louie Gohmert, who this week told a woman she should have carried brain-dead fetus to term.
Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post's Wonk Blog further analyzes the issues that could prevent comprehensive reform from passing, including the three Bs of immigration: "border security, benefits and biometrics." Republicans are especially sensitive to border security because it is a touchstone campaign issue for conservative constituencies.
That said, the Gang of 8's plan is not completely dead. Matthews cites the House's own Gang of Eight which has been working for nearly four years on an equally comprehensive compliment to the Senate plan. The House's Gang of 8, Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), John Carter (R-Texas), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), also announced this week that they have reached a preliminary deal on comprehensive reform including a path to citizenship.
The House's Gang of 8 may not present as rigorous of a set of reforms as the Senate, but their bill will allow Speaker Boehner to reject the Senate bill and still maintain the appearance of bipartisanship. Of course this was never meant to be a clean issue but the level of partisan hurdles is extraordinary even for this Congress.
As Speaker Boehner himself summarized, "The House will work its will. Don't ask me how because if I knew I'd certainly tell you."
I'm going to let Michelle Obama to respond to that: