Is Boehner Backpedaling On Immigration Reform?

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 7 2014 @ 2:20pm

Cillizza analyzes Boehner’s statement yesterday that “There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws”:

Making President Obama the issue is never a bad thing for a Republican Speaker who wants to keep his job. If the narrow window to pass immigration reform closes entirely sometime between now and November, Boehner has now created a perfect political scapegoat on which to blame things. Look, President Obama never was willing to build the relationships with my members I told him he needed to, Boehner will now be able to tell both his conference and conservative Republican activists across the country. And, those folks are already more than willing to believe that narrative.

Immigration reform isn’t dead — yet. But Boehner’s assessment of its chances on Thursday are what sharp political minds have known all along: It’s a triple bank shot (or a Triple Lindy). Possible, but far from likely.

Weigel chides the media for making too much of the statement. Allahpundit thinks it makes more sense for the speaker to pursue reform after the elections:

Here’s the question: If he could get more of a Republican buy-in next year, why shouldn’t he wait? Matt Lewis argued the other day that amnesty opponents will always gin up some sort of excuse related to the timing to keep kicking the immigration-reform can down the road, but I simply can’t believe party leaders and their business backers will send the GOP nominee into battle in 2016 without arming him with some sort of amnesty to show Latino voters. It might be a limited one like DREAM, but something’s going to happen. Even Raul Labrador, who said this week that pushing immigration now could cost Boehner his gavel, says immigration is “one of the first things we should do” in 2015 once it controls the Senate again.

Sargent’s view:

[T]here’s just no reason to assume reform will be any easier for Republicans next year than it is right now, and there are multiple scenarios in which it could be harder next year. And if it doesn’t get done in 2015, Republicans will be heading into the next presidential election having failed to embrace reform yet again — after yet another contentious debate marked by who knows what sort of rhetoric — making relations with Latinos still worse, as demographic reality marches on.

Jay Newton-Small thinks immigration reform will stall. Among her reasons:

Most Republicans want to wait to pass immigration reform until next year, after the midterm elections. The problem with that scenario is that the 2016 presidential race will heat up the minute the midterms are over. And while Democrats have every incentive to push for a deal now, they could lose a powerful wedge issue at the polls in 2016 if they pass a deal next year. Sure, Obama probably would like to see something get done to burnish his legacy. But Democrats may argue that they could get a better deal in 2017, especially if they lose the Senate in November.

Larison sees a lose-lose scenario for Republicans:

Republicans stand to gain nothing if they help Obama achieve one of his legislative goals. Meanwhile, their “compromise” position of favoring legalization without citizenship so reeks of cynicism that it won’t be appealing to anyone outside the party. Indeed, favoring legalization without the possibility of citizenship is in some respects the most insulting position one can take, since it provides amnesty for those here illegally while keeping them as a non-citizen underclass that will continue to compete with American labor.