Amnesty forevah! (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

So it has come to this: The Great Right Wing Rebellion of 2014 — which supposedly represented a victory for right wing populism over the GOP establishment’s corrupt alliance with business elites, as evidenced in Eric Cantor’s supposed support for “amnesty” — may result in Eric Cantor being replaced by a Republican who really does support legal status for the 11 million.

Multiple reports tell us that GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy is  rounding up support to replace Cantor as House Majority Leader. While things could always change, if McCarthy does end up replacing Cantor, it will show that the insurgency that defeated Cantor has failed to “take advantage of it by getting one of their own elected.”

Cantor’s loss supposedly showed that feints in the direction of supporting legalization (Cantor only supported legalizing the DREAMers, but victor David Brat characterized this as “amnesty”) are toxic, dooming immigration reform this year. But McCarthy, Cantor’s likely successor, comes from a California district with a lot of Latinos, and here he is in January:

In a Tuesday evening interview with Eyewitness News, McCarthy said he is in favor of granting legal status to those undocumented immigrants who qualify.

“The principles aren’t written yet, but in my personal belief, I think it’ll go with legal status that will allow you to work and pay taxes,” said McCarthy.

Now, it’s hard to know what this says about the politics of immigration. McCarthy’s ascension seems to be all about the relationships he forged among House Republicans over the years. It certainly wouldn’t make prospects for reform any brighter.

Meanwhile, John Boehner has long said he believes reform must include some form of legal status for the 11 million, and the principles he released earlier this year included the idea. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State, the number four in the House GOP leadership, supports legal status.

It’s a strange irony that the one major obstacle to immigration reform is that most House Republicans are not ready to cross the Rubicon into accepting legal status, yet the success of an anti-amnesty candidacy may end up elevating a voice among GOP leaders who clearly want the party to cross this Rubicon, though they don’t seem willing to take the risks necessary to make it happen this year. As Philip Klein notes, conservatives will only see this as a sign of the party’s determination to “crush” them.

The politics inside the House GOP caucus probably make immigration reform impossible this year, in spite of stated leadership support for it. But that was true before Cantor’s defeat. And it’s hard to square McCarthy’s likely ascension with the idea that Cantor’s defeat represents a victorious turning point for the anti-amnesty forces.

“This doesn’t make me any more hopeful that the GOP will bust a move,” immigration advocate Frank Sharry tells me. “But the meme that immigration doomed Eric Cantor? It didn’t doom Kevin McCarthy.”

Update: Post edited slightly for accuracy.

* REPUBLICANS PLOT TO UNDERMINE EPA RULES: This is an interesting report from Bloomberg News:

Republicans will try to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed greenhouse-gas rule by denying the funding to implement it, according to a senior member of a U.S. House appropriations panel. The funding ban “will be in Interior,” Idaho Republican Mike Simpson said, referring to the appropriations bill being drafted for the Department of Interior and EPA. […]

Because the spending bill must pass to keep the Interior Department and the EPA running, it’s an attractive vehicle for bringing media and public attention to the emissions issue, particularly in an election year. Republicans would embrace a pitched battle over a carbon rule they say will kill jobs in coal-rich parts of the country.

As best as I can determine, this would lead to a Congressional vote on whether to defund the administration’s efforts to curb carbon emissions in hopes of an international treaty to stave off global warming before it’s too late. One supposes red state Dems will have trouble with this, but Bloomberg adds that the vast majority of Dems will support the EPA rules.

* THE LATEST IMMIGRATION CRISIS: The Christian Science Monitor has a nice piece explaining the dilemma embedded in the new flow of young illegal immigrants into the U.S. via southern Texas, which has reached crisis proportions. While Republicans blame the crisis on Obama’s de-prioritization of deportation of DREAMers — on Obama’s lawlessness, in other words — the Monitor offers this:

The US is a signatory to a 1951 UN refugee treaty that says anyone who crosses the border and shows signs of being at risk cannot be sent back until their circumstances have been investigated thoroughly. “We’re not dealing with groups of people here who are not entitled to U.S. protection,” says James Hathaway, the director of the Program in Refugee and Asylum Law at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Quite the contrary, we’re dealing with a population that actually seems to in very large measure qualify for protection that we offered to provide by signing the UN Refugee Convention.”

The piece sums up the dilemma as follows: “Are children fleeing Central American violence refugees who need asylum or illegal gold-diggers who need to go home?” Meanwhile, Republicans’ attacks on DACA as the cause amount once again to a demand that the administration deport the DREAMers, though few will say so directly.

* GOP PUNT ON IMMIGRATION IS GREAT NEWS FOR HILLARY: Ron Brownstein has a must read detailing why Eric Cantor’s loss, and the near-certain death of immigration reform with it, is great news for anyone who wants to see Hillary Clinton elected president in 2016:

The House GOP has essentially barricaded itself against the demographic trends that have helped Democrats win the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections…Polls consistently show that even most Republican partisans believe that immigrants here illegally should be allowed to stay — and either become citizens or, at least, work openly. But many Republican legislators believe that, as with gun control, those who oppose legalization vote on the issue more consistently than those who support it, especially in the conservative districts they mostly represent…GOP presidential candidates could be pulled to the right if immigration reform isn’t resolved legislatively before the 2016 primaries.

Yep. As one GOP operative put it to me, the party is divided between those who have scaled back their ambitious to winning only Congressional elections, and those who still hope to compete in presidential elections. And doing reform next year only opens the door to a Ted Cruz anti-amnesty sludge-fest.

* WHO LOST IRAQ? With the situation deteriorating rapidly, Fareed Zakaria places the blame on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and notes that he is there because of the strategy pursued by George W. Bush. On criticism of Obama’s role:

What about the Obama administration and its decision to withdraw American forces from the country by the end of 2011? I would have preferred to see a small American force in Iraq to try to prevent the country’s collapse. But let’s remember why this force is not there. Maliki refused to provide the guarantees that every other country in the world that hosts U.S. forces offers. Some commentators have blamed the Obama administration for negotiating badly or halfheartedly and perhaps this is true. But here’s what a senior Iraqi politician told me in the days when the U.S. withdrawal was being discussed: “It will not happen. Maliki cannot allow American troops to stay on.”

* BUT JOHN McCAIN SAYS ‘WE HAD IRAQ WON’: McCain keeps up the criticism of Obama on Morning Joe:

McCain said the Iraq war was won after the successful troop surge ordered by President George W. Bush, and blamed the current situation on President Obama’s decision to not leave a residual U.S. force in Iraq. “The fact is, we had the conflict won. The surge had succeeded,” McCain said. “And then, the decision was made by the Obama administration to not have a residual force in Iraq.”

As Matt Duss tweeted: “McCain seems to think if he just keeps repeating ‘We had Iraq won!’ it will be true.”

* AND BEHOLD DAVID BRAT ON CHRISTIANITY AND GOVERNMENT: The New York Times, in a good article about Cantor-slayer David Brat’s views, as well as those of his Dem opponent, ferrets out this:

In a 2011 article, “God and Advanced Mammon — Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” published in a journal of religion, Mr. Brat questioned whether Christianity could be reconciled with government programs. “Are you willing to force someone you know to pay for the benefits for one of your neighbors?” he asked. “Very few Christians I know are willing to say ‘yes’ to this question.”

So taxation to fund government programs to help people is incompatible with Christianity?