Appearing on “Meet the Press” Sunday, Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York, floated a new proposal designed to win Republican support for an immigration bill—a proposal designed specifically to address concerns that Boehner raised last week, when the Speaker esssentially declared that efforts to pass reform were at an impasse. At a press conference, Boehner indicated that his fellow House Republicans won’t support an immigration bill because they don’t trust President Obama to enforce it. Fine, Schumer said on Sunday—let’s postpone the new law’s effective date until 2017, when Obama isn’t president anymore.
Tobin tips his hat to Schumer for outsmarting the GOP:
[B]y giving in to Republicans on this point and putting off implementation of the law until after Obama leaves the White House, all Schumer has done is to expose something that was already obvious: Republicans won’t vote for an immigration reform bill under virtually any circumstances.
Boehner immediately rejected the proposal, saying it would leave no incentive for Obama to enforce current law for the remainder of his term. Kristol suggests that Republicans use Schumer’s own logic to kill reform:
So even Schumer is willing to have no legislation go into effect until 2017. In other words, the main sponsor of the Senate immigration bill, who has previously pretended immigration reform is urgently important, is acknowledging that in fact there is no urgency to act. But if nothing needs to go into effect until 2017, then Republicans have an even simpler solution: Do nothing. Don’t enact legislation until 2017.
John Dickerson doubts the GOP can pass a reform bill, simply because the forces working against it are too strong:
Here is a key point: The conservative activists and grassroots groups who can punish members who vote for a bad immigration bill are stronger than the forces that are pushing for passage of the immigration bill. This is the shorthand Republicans use to explain the political balance of power. “The Chamber [of Commerce] and downtown [lobbyists] want it,” says one GOP leadership aide, “but they’re not going to primary anyone.” Absent the clarifying force of an outside group putting a lot of money or enthusiasm behind a challenger, Republicans in individual districts don’t face pressure from minority voters. There are 108 majority-minority districts and Republicans only hold nine of them. Of the 24 House Republicans who represent a district where the Latino population is 25 percent or higher, only a handful are vulnerable and could therefore be affected by a bold move on this issue that would affect voter opinions.
Larison notes the gap between the GOP leadership and the rest of the party:
The House leaders are working on the assumption that passing an immigration bill is both desirable and beneficial to their party. Most of their party believes neither of these things, so they’re bound to be wary of anything that the leaders tell them in an attempt to sell them on what most of them regard as bad legislation. The difficulty that Boehner and his lieutenants have is not just that Republicans don’t trust Obama, but that most Republicans also don’t trust their own leaders on this issue, and with good reason.