At long, long last, a bit of good news on immigration reform — if it’s true. A money quote from Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker piece about the big push in Congress for amnesty:
[A] senior White House offcial insisted that Obama’s role in overseeing details of the bill has been more signifcant than is generally known. ‘No decisions are being made without talking to us about it,’ the official said of the Gang of Eight negotiations … ‘This does not fly if we’re not O.K. with it, because everyone knows this is going to pass with some Republicans but with a majority of Democrats, and it’s going to require even more Democrats in the House.’ … ‘We’re not worried about short-term political credit. We’ll get plenty of it if it gets signed,’ the official said, adding that the White House was willing to let Republicans like [Lindsey] Graham and [Marco] Rubio, who are regularly attacked by conservatives, have the political space they needed. … ‘We’re the hammer on the back end. If the Republicans try to scuttle it, we’re the ones who can communicate to the Latino community who scuttled it.’
Bingo. The most obvious route to passage in the House is with near-unanimous Democratic support and a rump of 30-40 GOP moderates whose districts aren’t so red that voting for the Gang of Eight bill might end up as a career-ender. That makes things nice and simple: If Boehner follows the Hastert Rule and refuses to bring a bill to the floor that’s opposed by the majority of the GOP caucus, then border hawks have a very real chance of stopping this thing. If Boehner abandons the Hastert Rule and decides to try to pass it 180 Democrats and 40 Republicans, then he’s probably done as Speaker but he’ll have pushed immigration reform through. That’s been the big X factor in all this. Is the GOP leadership so hot for reform that Boehner might fall on his sword to make it happen?
At the Examiner, David Drucker’s sources say no:
House Speaker John Boehner is not going to bring a comprehensive immigration-reform plan to the floor if a majority of Republicans don’t support it, sources familiar with his plans said.
“No way in hell,” is how several described the chances of the speaker acting on such a proposal without a majority of his majority behind him…
“I just don’t think that’s the winning formula here,” [Rep. Tom] Cole told The Washington Examiner. “What the speaker wants to do is have a hopefully bipartisan product — certainly one that has the majority of Republicans — pass the House. This has got too much emotional, political impact and I think it really has to be genuinely bipartisan.”
Reassuring, but only up to a point. Al Hunt of Bloomberg predicted yesterday that if Boehner concludes there’s no hope for immigration reform except to violate the Hastert Rule, he’ll violate it, pass the bill, and accept the consequences to his Speakership. No doubt most Beltway Republicans are hoping that he does. In a sense, pushing the bill through with most House GOPers voting no is an ideal outcome to them. Letting most House Republicans vote no ensures that they won’t have to worry about turnout or primary challenges in their districts back home. Meanwhile, the dream of amnesty will have become a reality with two Republicans — Marco Rubio and John Boehner — drawing lots of breathless media coverage as the men who made reform happen. The party will, in theory, get an image boost with Latinos for that and yet it’ll retain its House majority with conservative support for the members of the caucus who voted against the bill. I wonder what establishment Republicans have in mind for a post-Speakership John Boehner if he comes through for them. The lobbyist opportunities must be simply mind-boggling.
If you missed it in Headlines, read Byron York on how the Gang of Eight bill offers several loopholes, including discretionary waivers to Janet Napolitano, for illegals convicted of multiple misdemeanors to gain legal status anyway. That the Gang would include poisonous exceptions like that knowing how much it would antagonize the conservatives they’re ostensibly trying to win over shows just how much control Democrats ultimately have over the bill.