If you want to know how messed up the political dynamic is on immigration reform, just look at what House Speaker John Boehner said at his news conference this afternoon. “It is time for the Congress of the United States to deal with a very difficult issue in our society,” Boehner said, “… it’s just time to deal with it.”
Okay, here’s the thing. In June 2013, the U.S. Senate passed an immigration overhaul bill with 68 votes. That’s an unheard-of tally in gridlocked Washington. The legislation went to the House, where it promptly died. Boehner (R-Hostage) backed down after the more vocal minority in his majority revolted. By June 2014, the president was in the Rose Garden announcing that he was going to take executive action because Boehner “informed me that Republicans will continue to block a vote on immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year.”
Ever since the election-night massacre of congressional Democrats, Republicans have been warning Obama against issuing an executive order on immigration. The presumed incoming Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said yesterday, “It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull to say, ‘If you guys don’t do what I want, I’m going to do it on my own.’ ” And Boehner said today, “When you play with matches, you run the risk of burning yourself. And the president is going to burn himself.”
Boehner is right about one thing. It IS time for the Congress of the United States to deal with a very difficult issue in our society. All he has to do is allow the Senate immigration bill to go to the floor for a vote in the lame-duck session. Boehner has the power to do what he says he wants done. Why won’t he use it?
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