There are reams of reporting out there on yesterday’s House GOP meeting about the way forward on immigration. But unless I’m missing something, one of the most basic questions about the debate still remains unanswered: Is there anything, under any circumstances, that can get House Republicans to embrace a path to citizenship later?
The reporting tells us that Republicans agreed that they are unlikely to act on immigration reform until the fall. It tells us that Republicans remain in thrall to their own talking point that the Obamacare mandate delay shows Obama can’t be trusted to enforce border security. It tells us that the GOP leadership is “skeptical that there is backing for anything more drastic than border security and E-verify.” Some of the Twitter traffic meanwhile, suggests Republicans remain more focused on whether security triggers should precede the initial provisional legalization, with the citizenship question mostly remaining an afterthought of sorts.
In other words, the reporting confirms what we already know: That House Republicans don’t currently support citizenship, and remain more focused on border security, on initial legalization, and on the general political need to appear to be doing something to fix the broken immigration system.
But here’s what we still don’t know: Whether there are any conditions, ever, that could induce House Republicans to embrace citizenship at any point in this process.
As best as I can determine from all the reporting, the basic question of what House Republicans would require in order to support citizenship at any point remains unanswered. Which means we still simply don’t know if there is anything that can get them to support it, under any circumstances. For now, we should assume the answer is No.
And so, if we take John Boehner at his word — that nothing gets a vote in the House unless it has the support of a majority of House Republicans — then this means there remains no path to even getting a House vote on comprehensive immigration reform.
* HOUSE GOP UNLIKELY TO EMBRACE CITIZENSHIP: Indeed, this one paragraph, from today’s New York Times write-up of yesterday’s meeting of the House GOP caucus to discuss immigration, perhaps best captures where we are on the citizenship question:
“Mr. Boehner repeatedly reassured Republicans that he would pass nothing through the House that did not have the support of a majority of his party, and lawmakers left the meeting certain that nothing significant would move through the House until September — and possibly much later…Instead, House Republicans will consider a piecemeal approach, passing several individual bills rather than one large package, as the Senate did. Any immigration proposal, members said, is likely to concentrate on border security and enforcement; a path to legalization or citizenship, they stressed, must come later — if at all.”
“If at all.” And so we would likely end up entering into conference negotiations with a House GOP package that doesn’t even include citizenship, which doesn’t bode well, obviously.
* IMMIGRATION TAKES BACK SEAT TO … DEBT CEILING? New York Times reporter John Harwood tweets:
Senior GOP House member: No resolution to immigration issue until after debt ceiling settled.
* GAY MARRIAGE BATTLE LOOMS IN PENNSYLVANIA: This is very much worth watching: The Pennsylvania attorney general will not defend the state’s law banning gay marriage from a new challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to overturn the law as unconstitutional. The SCOTUS decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on equal protection grounds is likely to unleash a wave of such lawsuits, since it may signal SCOTUS’s readiness to strike down many state anti-marriage equality laws.
* GOP MOVES FARM BILL TO THE RIGHT: The House GOP leadership is finally set to hold a vote on the farm bill’s agricultural piece without the food stamp funding, after the whole bill went down in the House, because Republicans had insisted on onerous amendments driving away Dems. What this means is that, after blaming Dems for failing to provide enough votes to pass the bill, Republicans have responded by moving the bill farther to the right.
Of course, all this does is postpone the problem, because when the bill goes to conference negotiations, Dem Senate negotiators will insist on restoring the food stamp piece. Meanwhile, Obama has threatened to veto the split farm bill.
* OBAMA UNDER WATER, BUT STILL MORE TRUSTED THAN GOP: A new Quinnipiac poll finds Obama’s approval under water on a range of issues, from foreign policy to immigration. But majorities still say he has strong leadership qualities and cares about people like them, and he’s more trusted on the economy over the GOP by 44-38, suggesting scandal-palooza may not have taken much of a toll on Obama’s personal ratings.
* GOP’S PATHOLOGICAL OPPOSITION TO OBAMACARE CONTINUES: Dana Milbank becomes the latest commentator to take stock of the GOP’s post policy nihilism in a good column detailing the pathological nature of the party’s ongoing drive to repeal Obamacare. Key nugget:
This unqualified opposition is counterproductive for House Republicans. On health care, as on immigration, their approach amounts to a search-and-destroy mission. They could work with Democrats to remove problematic pieces in the health-care law, and they could compromise with Democrats on legislation that would secure the borders. But instead they are devoted to shutting down both.
The more media recognition of the basic reality that the GOP has crossed over into what can only be called “sabotage governing,” the better…
* THE EDUCATION OF JEFF MERKLEY: David Dayen does a deep dive into Senator Jeff Merkley’s collision with the reality of today’s Senate. Merkley, of course, has been one of the main proponents of filibuster reform, and very soon, we’ll find out if Harry Reid and Dems are ready to take the plunge.
* AND A CHALLENGE TO IMMIGRATION REFORM OPPONENTS: E.J. Dionne offers a good one: If you oppose immigration reform because it will supposedly depress wages of low end American workers, then why not join Democrats in supporting a minimum wage hike?