The bill’s chances appear to have taken a turn for the worse. Chait assesses the situation:
Is the deal exactly what Rubio wanted? No. It wasn’t exactly what anybody wanted. But, again, that’s called “negotiation.” That’s why Democrats had to vote for utterly obnoxious provisions excluding gay couples. They didn’t like the things they voted for, but were under the impression that both sides were bound by the terms of the deal. Now Rubio is saying only they’re bound by it.
The question for Democrats is, at what point do they insist that a deal’s a deal? The dynamic here is that Republicans have a mainly political objective, and Democrats a mainly policy objective. The Republicans do want some changes to the law that would benefit businesses, but mainly they want to take immigration off the table as an issue in order to give themselves an opening to court Latino voters. Democrats are willing to take the issue off the table in order to get a substantive policy accomplishment.
He follows up here. My worry is that if this doesn’t get done by the fall, we’re entering primary season on the right and the lunatic choke-hold on pragmatic reform will tighten. Allahpundit analyzes Rubio’s recent demands for border-security guarantees:
If Rubio’s decided the bill’s current border-security provisions are untenable, it’s not because he’s been troubled by them all along and feels obliged to keep his initial promise. It’s because, despite his best efforts, the Gang of Eight simply won’t fly as-is among conservatives. He did his best to sell it and he couldn’t pull it off. Time for Plan B.
Drum is growing pessimistic:
“Those amendments” [that Rubio wants] are poison pills that would require 100 percent operational control of the border before any new green cards are issued, a standard that’s pretty obviously impossible to meet. The only reason to insist on them is to give Rubio a plausible exit strategy from his own bill.
Or so it seems. Maybe Rubio has something else in mind. But it’s sure starting to look like Rubio has figured out that his support for immigration reform is doing him more harm than good with the tea party folks he needs if he ever wants to become president. What’s more, he’s probably less confident than he used to be about the chances of getting the House to go along anyway, which makes it pointless for him to keep taking damage over the issue.
Ezra searches for a silver lining:
Letting Republicans break the bill into pieces makes it likelier that some of those pieces will pass. It also makes it easier for Republicans to vent their anger against certain parts of immigration reform — like the path to citizenship — without imperiling the whole bill. It makes it likelier that something, anything, passes the House.
Bernstein’s bottom line:
What Rubio’s apparent defection could mean is that the vote in the Senate will be a lot less overwhelming. But that only really matters to the extent that it puts pressure on the House. And what really matters in the House probably isn’t media pressure, but the basic calculation by mainstream conservatives about whether passing a bill is better than not passing a bill.