The fate of immigration reform was more or less sealed after House Republicans gathered for an annual retreat and formed a set of immigration reform “principles” that they would not deviate from.
Chief among those principles was Speaker John Boehner’s declaration that there absolutely would not be a path to citizenship included in any bill passed by the House of Representatives. This is “as far as we are willing to go” he said.
Given that there is no way a non-comprehensive reform bill would pass the Democratically-controlled Senate, the chances of any bill making it’s way to the president’s desk this year seemed thin, but apparently Senate Republican leadership aren’t keen on a potential House bill either.
From The Hill
“I think we have sort of an irresolvable conflict here,” [McConnell] told reporters. “The Senate insists on comprehensive [legislation]. The House says it won’t go to conference with the Senate on comprehensive and wants to look at [it] step by step.
“I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place,” said McConnell. [...]
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said a comprehensive package is unpalatable to many Republicans.
“The problem isn’t so much the principles, it’s how legislation actually gets passed and we find consensus, and that’s the challenge,”
“The challenge” is for Senate Republicans to appear as if they’re both for and against immigration reform in an election year.
Senate Republican leadership know that comprehensive immigration reform can pass in the Senate. It has already been passed. A comprehensive bill was passed last year with the support of Senator Marco Rubio who, as you may have noticed, is no longer anyone’s favorite. And even though Rubio swiftly denounced his own proposals and support for immigration reform, he has suffered the consequences.
The mission of Republican leadership now is to discourage the House from passing their own bill because, if they do, it will put Senate Republicans on the spot.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell himself does not want to be forced to say Yay or Nay to an immigration reform bill in 2014 while he’s facing challenges from his Left and Right back home in Kentucky.
Blocking immigration reform may have negative repercussions at the national level, but at the local level Senate Republicans must answer to their rabid base of constituents who believe the multilingual Coca-Cola ad was an affront to common decency.
The Republican party doesn’t appear to have a clear strategy on immigration reform unless flailing could be considered a strategy.