That Gang of 8 thing may not have been such a shoe-in after all. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has come back to report that, despite having sailed through the Judiciary Committee and garnering the support of at least four Republicans, they may still be coming up short..
“We don’t currently have 60 votes identified in the Senate,” Menendez said in an interview with Univision. “We need to add more votes on the floor. That means that the community in your state, in every state, should be contacting your state’s two U.S. Senators saying that they want comprehensive immigration reform, that they are going to judge their political future based on this vote.”
Supporters of the bill are pushing for a strong bipartisan vote of 70 or more to put pressure on the House to take up the legislation.
There was a time when getting a strong show of bipartisanship in the Senate might have actually “put pressure” on the House to take up a bill. But frankly, I think those days are in the past, at least for the time being. Particularly with control of the upper and lower chambers split between the parties, I honestly don’t see anyone on either side being interested in bowing to any sort of pressure at all. Getting the bill passed with 60 votes would probably be no different than getting 75.
Besides that, it looks like the Speaker has already sent some pretty clear signals on his position.
Boehner issued a statement Thursday signed by the members of his leadership team and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., that takes a new approach and suggests Republicans want more ownership of the issue. Whether that will derail the fragile agreement forged across the rotunda remains unclear.
“While we applaud the progress made by our Senate colleagues, there are numerous ways in which the House will approach the issue differently,” they said. “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.”
That about says it all. Even if the Senate comes up with 60 votes, it simply won’t get a straight up vote in the House on the Senate’s version. Boehner’s plan will no doubt include a lot more border enforcement and security up front, with a good measure of caution on the back end before we see any sort of path to citizenship. And given how much of a tightrope walk it was to find a bare majority in the Senate, it’s unlikely that a widely redesigned House bill will find a lot of love there.