June 5, 2013

Immigration reform just keeps taking one apparent blow after another, with the latest the reported failure of House bipartisan talks.

Perhaps this is another sign that comprehensive immigration reform just won’t happen. But I suspect, just as I suspect with Marco Rubio’s rejection of his own Senate immigration bill, that it’s just the logic of the situation working itself out.

That is: if immigration reform passes, it will almost certainly do so with fewer than half of all House Republicans — they’ll want it to pass, and thus John Boehner will bring it to the House floor, but they won’t want to vote for it. It’s not clear that will happen, but it is clear that most Republicans will never vote for a path to citizenship, and Democrats (and, more importantly, many of the groups who want a bill) won’t support it without citizenship.

Given that basic situation, the logic of a bipartisan House bill never made much sense. If House Republicans are ultimately going to vote against a bill, why bother having to do it twice (once on passage of the House bill, again on passage of a bill out of conference)? Meanwhile, if some House Republicans want to vote for something, better to write something all their own to offer as an alternative to the comprehensive Senate bill — it will be a lot less embarrassing when that fails than it would be if they put the same thing on the floor by itself.

That’s if they want a bill. If they don’t, then why go through the motions? Better to have nothing at all come to the floor than to have a bill that fails.

After all, the whole reason the House has been making the Senate go first is so that compromise-averse House Republicans can avoid reaching agreement on things, even if they want them to pass. Republican immigration voters may not like immigrants — but what they really hate is for Republican politicians to agree with Democrats on anything.

 

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