Immigration debate has been going on for weeks now. But to borrow from Churchill, we are not even at the end of the beginning.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) put out a statement on immigration today with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.):
“Our nation’s immigration system is broken —hurting families, our national security, and the economy, which is why reform is included in our plan for economic growth and job creation. While we applaud the progress made by our Senate colleagues, there are numerous ways in which the House will approach the issue differently. The House remains committed to fixing our broken immigration system, but we will not simply take up and accept the bill that is emerging in the Senate if it passes. Rather, through regular order, the House will work its will and produce its own legislation. Enacting policy as consequential and complex as immigration reform demands that both chambers of Congress engage in a robust debate and amendment process. Our nation’s immigration processes, border security, and enforcement mechanisms remain dysfunctional. The House goal is enactment of legislation that actually solves these problems and restores faith in our immigration system, and we are committed to continuing the work we’ve begun toward that goal in the weeks and months ahead.”
The translation is that they can’t bigfoot Goodlatte and they’ll need to come up with the House’s own version of immigration reform. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is fine with that, as he indicated in his own statement:
Our republic works best when Congress solves problems through open and transparent debates, which is exactly how immigration reform will be addressed this summer. Conservatives in both chambers of Congress agree the status quo on immigration is bad for our people, our security and our economy. And we agree we must end today’s de facto amnesty, modernize our legal immigration system, deal with our illegal immigrant population by requiring that strict measures be achieved, and that we put in place tough border security and interior enforcement measures so that we never repeat this problem. The American people deserve for their elected representatives to set our nation’s immigration policy, not leave it at the will of this President to decide which laws he’ll enforce and which ones he’ll create on his own by executive order.
Notice that he’s now using the lawless president argument in favor of getting federal law to restrict his willy-nilly rewriting of federal law.
More important, he’s plainly smart enough not to get in the face of House members. Respecting the other body is Legislation Basics 101. And it would also suggest this is a long progress. The Senate will pass its bill; the House, its own. Then there is a conference, with appointees selected by leadership. It is there and in the debate after conference that the bill’s fate will be determined.
In fact, no bill is passed by a gang of anything less than 51 senators and 232 House members. Getting something this controversial and important done requires patience. Senate and House GOP leaders are signaling they have plenty of that.