Boehner continues to pretend there’s a Plan B

June 26, 2013
House Speaker John Boehner (AP)
John Boehner (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) continues to believe in something that appears less and less likely to happen:

Lest there be any lingering doubt, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) once again told his colleagues Wednesday morning at their weekly closed-door meeting that no matter what the Senate does on immigration reform, the House will act on its own.

“We’ll do our own bill, through regular order and it’ll be a bill that reflects the will of our majority and the people we represent,” Boehner said, according to GOP aides in the room.

After the original (fiscal cliff) Plan B, after the Farm Bill, I’m sure Boehner would like to pass a respectable Republican alternative, but that option probably remains a pipe dream.

Remember, the strongest anti-immigration members of Boehner’s conference said last week that they were inclined to vote against any bill, even one they otherwise approved of, in order to prevent what they anticipate would be a “sell out” if the House and Senate meet in a conference committee. That may be enough to sink a GOP-only bill right there, and that’s without any moderate Republicans who might be reluctant to vote for an enforcement-only bill that most Republicans would support on the merits. Perhaps Boehner can figure out a way around that, but it’s hard to see what he has to offer to the various groups he would need to make it work.

So how does this end? As Greg Sargent reminds us again today, ultimately Boehner and House Republicans will either let the bill die or let it pass with mostly Democratic votes. Certainly, Boehner would love to get out of that choice — thus “regular order” and the idea that they’ll move something to a conference committee — but, even then, the bottom line is that comprehensive reform includes citizenship, Democrats want comprehensive reform, and most Republicans don’t want to vote for it.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s Boehner’s choice. He’s constrained by Republican members of the House. It’s up to them whether they want a bill to pass (even if they vote against it) or not; he’s going to do what they want. And while it’s very good to get additional reporting on what they might want, the odds are they’re going to deflect it, no matter what they really think. We’re probably going to have to wait a while to find out. That’s why it’s no surprise that Boehner and his conference are happy to pretend that they’ll have their own alternative bill ready any minute now.

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Ruth Marcus | June 26, 2013