Two things have become clear over the past 24 hours: 1. The Senate is going to pass some sort of comprehensive immigration reform bill, and 2. The House doesn’t much care. Welcome to Washington, circa 2013!
“Why should a minority of the minority in the Senate influence a majority of the majority in the House,” asked Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole. “While most Senators aren’t up for election next year, every member of the House will be on the ballot.”
Rewind back a few months and the idea that a vote to proceed to debate on a key border security measure would win 67 votes — as it did Monday night — would be greeted with something between disbelief and joy by immigration reform advocates.
But, even before the Senate voted Monday night, it was obvious that no matter what the vote looked like it would have little influence on the plans of the GOP-controlled House.
House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) had told his Republican colleagues that no immigration legislation would be brought the floor if a majority of the GOP majority didn’t support it. And, anyone who has spent any time around the current Republican majority in the House — or watched as the farm bill failed last week – recognizes that the Senate immigration bill (and, perhaps, any bipartisan immigration bill) isn’t going to be backed by a majority of the Republican majority in that chamber.
How the Senate voted on Monday also affirms that the immigration legislation could well be dead on arrival in the House. Not a single member of the Senate GOP leadership voted for cloture. All told, 27 Republicans voted against it while 15 voted in favor of the cloture motion. (Four GOP Senators did not vote, largely due to bad weather in and around Washington Monday that delayed flights.) Those numbers provide little of the momentum or pressure that some Republicans had hoped might be foist upon the House with a strong Senate GOP vote for the bill.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” said one senior GOP House leadership aide about the Senate vote on immigration. “It wouldn’t be something a Republican Senate would bring to the floor. Why should a Republican House just take it up?”
Added another House Republican leadership staffer: “Even if the bill passes with 70-plus votes in the Senate, the path to 218 in the House is very perilous. Many Republicans are skeptical of even voting on something as simple as border security, as they feel that it provides a ‘path to Conference [committee]‘ where they are afraid an untenable compromise will emerge.”
During the “fiscal cliff” debate, the Senate passed a bipartisan measure with 89 votes over the opposition of only five Republicans. But over in the House, less than 40 percent of Republicans supported it, reinforcing the reality that nothing in the Senate guarantees passage in the lower chamber.
What Republicans in the House want, according to Cole, is a chance to pass their own bill through the normal legislative order and then try to negotiate a compromise between their version and what passes the Senate. “If that cannot be done then no bill should or will pass the House,” he said.
Now, it’s important to remember that the Senate vote on Monday night was simply to move ahead on one proposed part of a larger package. But it was a significant step toward a final vote on passage before Congress breaks around July 4.
It’s possible that votes in the Senate could shift between Monday and the final vote on the measure. (Of course, it would be strange if any of the 27 Republicans who opposed cloture then turned around and voted for the legislation.) And, it’s also possible that the House GOP leadership will change its approach between now and then.
Neither scenario seems likely, however. Which means that immigration reform — at least at the moment — looks to be teetering on the edge of failure.
Election Day in Massachusetts: Voters are headed to the polls Tuesday in the Bay State to choose their next senator. Rep. Ed Markey (D) is the clear front-runner over former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez (R) in a race that has attracted relatively light attention in the state. Gomez stumped in person for the first time Monday with Scott Brown, the Republican who many compared him to at the outset of the campaign. But with the most recent polling showing Markey leading comfortably, Gomez isn’t expected to repeat Brown’s unlikely 2010 success. Polls close at 8 p.m. ET. We’ll have results for you over on Post Politics once the contest is called.
President Obama will meet with full congressional leadership at the White House on Tuesday to discuss immigration and other issues.
The Supreme Court announced a handful of rulings on Monday. But nothing yet on gay marriage or the Voting Rights Act. More opinions will be issued Tuesday morning.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is headed to Iowa in August.
Following a New York Times story about the women who exchanged explicit messages with Anthony Weiner when he was in the House, Weiner expressed “deep regret” over the problems the scandal caused the women.
Nashua, New Hampshire Mayor Donnalee Lozeau resigned from Mayors Against Illegal Guns shortly after joining. She said she did not know the group would “unfairly attack” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R)
Newt Gingrich didn’t steal the red panda.
“Obama’s hands-off approach to extraditing Snowden draws criticism” — Philip Rucker, Washington Post
“Documents show IRS also screened liberal groups” — Alan Fram, Associated Press