August 28, 2013

 

John Boehner
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio). (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Don’t believe this spin, brought to you by Politico’s Jake Sherman and Carrie Budoff Brown:

Immigration reform advocates have a new enemy: the congressional calendar.

Fall’s fiscal fights have lined up in a way that could delay immigration reform until 2014, multiple senior House Republican leadership aides tell POLITICO, imperiling the effort’s prospects before the midterm elections.

The mid-October debt ceiling deadline — an earlier-than-expected target laid out Monday by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — is changing the House GOP leadership’s plans to pass immigration bills that month.

“If we have to deal with the debt limit earlier, it doesn’t change the overall dynamics of the debate, but — just in terms of timing — it might make it harder to find time for immigration bills in October,” one House Republican leadership aide said.

To begin with: the debt limit bill will most likely be a very simple one; it’s very unlikely it will take more than one day of the House’s floor time, and could easily take only a fraction of a day. Yes, the debate about it can go on for weeks, and will, but that doesn’t mean that the House can’t also get on with other business in the meantime.

And anyway: what else are House Republicans planning to bring to the floor in October (or, for that matter, in September. Or November. Or December)? Oh, I’m sure they will stage quite a few votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But other than that, and whatever government funding they don’t get to in September, it’s not as if there’s a big Republican agenda to get to.

Nor is it actually true that the small number of planned legislative days over the next few months are somehow set in stone. If there’s something new on the legislative calendar, Republicans can always schedule a few more days. It’s not as if Congress has never done that.

What this is really about is looking for excuses, even far-fetched ones, for why they’re not doing comprehensive immigration reform without actually admitting that they’re against comprehensive immigration reform.

It’s not going to wash. Republicans don’t have to actually vote in favor of a bill, but if they refuse to allow it to be considered (and, therefore, to pass over their objections with a coalition of mostly Democratic votes), then the groups who want a bill are going to blame Republicans, and John Boehner, for it.

It remains very simple. If most mainstream conservative Republicans in the House want comprehensive immigration reform to pass, it will pass. If they don’t, it won’t. It really is that simple. Anything else you hear is poor analysis or spin.