Boehner to GOP caucus: I’m not committed to moving forward on immigration

posted at 11:21 am on January 31, 2014 by Allahpundit

A scoop from Jonathan Strong about the mood inside yesterday’s big immigration-reform rollout.

But if the public rollout of the document seemed like an announcement, the feeling inside the room was much more tentative. Speaker John Boehner, in particular, surprised many in the audience with his tepid words on behalf of moving forward.

“He seemed timid or reluctant to suggest that this was anything but a discusssion,” Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told Breitbart News. “He even said, he made the statement—which I found surprising — that he is not commited to moving forward on any legislation. He wasn’t trying to sell us on this, I don’t think. He was saying the words but it didn’t seem to be coming from his heart.”

Baffling. He waffled last year on immigration reform, then finally mustered the courage to push it front and center this month — in an election year, no less — and now he’s waffling again. The fight to pass something will be wrenching, no matter when it happens and how solicitous Boehner’s language is. Essentially, he’s rolled a grenade into the Republican tent but left the pin in, leaving it up to the caucus to decide whether to pull it. If you’re going to use a grenade, full commitment is part of the deal, no?

Now, question: Would passing reform next year become impossible if the Republicans pick up seats in the midterms, as everyone expects? I argued yesterday that it’ll be harder because grassroots righties will expect a GOP-controlled Congress to produce a much tougher bill than they could reasonably expect to produce now. Matt Lewis counters that I’m missing the point — if the GOP takes back the Senate, grassroots righties will expect them to stay away from immigration entirely, reasoning that if inaction on the matter was no obstacle to a big win in the midterms, it’ll be no obstacle to a big win in 2016 either. True enough, some tea partiers would react that way. My sense, though, is that the rest of the GOP simply Will – Not – Tolerate another presidential election where the Republican nominee has nothing conciliatory to show Latino voters. It may be a myth that Romney lost in 2012 because he got walloped by Obama among that group, but it’s no myth that as the Latino population grows and turnout rates improve, a 72/27 Democratic advantage would be ruinous for the GOP long-term. The core question here has always been whether amnesty is the key to winning back some of those voters, either as a “magic bullet” (even McCain admits it won’t win any votes by itself) or as a sort of threshold issue on which the GOP needs to show compromise so that Latinos will give the rest of their agenda a fair look. Wherever you land on that subject, I think large numbers of centrist/establishment Republicans believe immigration reform is an absolute prerequisite to rebuilding goodwill with Latinos. And I think they’re secretly optimistic that passing amnesty would be a bit of a magic bullet with Latinos as soon as 2016, not enough to cut deeply into the Democratic advantage but maybe enough to trim five points, which could be crucial in a tight election.

So no, I don’t agree with Lewis that a redder Congress would mean doom for reform in 2015 as border hawks shift to an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the GOP’s chances in 2016. We already have painful experience with the reality that midterm results and presidential results are very different creatures. No matter how well Republicans do this year, it won’t be as well as they did in 2010, and 2010 ended up being no impediment to an Obama landslide in 2012. Many, many more Democrats, especially minority Democrats, will be at the polls two and a half years from now to decide who wins the White House than will be at the polls this fall to decide who holds Congress. Even tea partiers who prefer the status quo on immigration should realize that. (Some do. Rand Paul, who’ll position himself as Mr. Tea Party in the election if Cruz doesn’t run, is himself open to forms of legalization if the border is secured.) And speaking of which, why would anyone want the status quo? At the very least, Boehner and McConnell should be expected to pass a serious border security measure next year, if only to dare Obama to veto it. If border security passes, though, Democrats’ new message will be that Republicans are actually becoming more hardline against illegal immigration at a time when polls show the public is willing to allow citizenship eventually for illegals who are already here. What do Boehner and McConnell do then? A limited DREAM-type amnesty? Full legalization contingent upon measurable improvements in border security? Tea partiers may howl, but tea partiers aren’t the whole party; other Republicans will be howling for different reasons. So this brings us back to yesterday’s question: If you’re going to tackle immigration and you know that you’ll have to include some type of legalization for at least some subgroup of illegals, when is/was the best time to do it? Early last year, when House GOPers who voted yes might face a primary this year because of it? Later this year, after the primaries have passed but before the all-important midterm election? Early next year, when they’ll have a redder Congress but might figure that Republican voters will forgive them by the time the 2016 election rolls around?

I’ll leave you with Sean Trende’s theory for why Boehner thinks now is the moment:

If a fight is inevitable, have it now rather than a much messier one in 2015. Maybe the Senate Democrats won’t be able to swallow a bill with tougher enforcement provisions and without a path to citizenship, and they will own part of the death of immigration reform. Or maybe they’ll pass it, and the issue will be partly cleared off the table for an election year. For an establishment Republican, that’s win-win…

What I am saying is that they [the GOP leadership] are closer to neutral about big [midterm] gains than we might think, given the problems that the surge in base enthusiasm caused for them after the 2010 elections. So if they check agenda items like this off the list now and still get a landslide, great. But if they end up cooling off the base’s enthusiasm and get a narrow, establishment-based Senate majority and keep the House, well, that’s not the end of the world either. In fact, it would mean a more docile caucus in both Houses, which is good for those who run those Houses.

If they pass amnesty this summer and Republican voters protest by staying home in November, fine. That means fewer tea partiers end up in Congress next year, which Boehner can live with. If they don’t pass it and Republican voters turn out in force, painting Congress red, that’s fine too. A bigger majority also has certain advantages. There are upsides and downsides to either outcome for Boehner so, he probably figures, why not make his move now?

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Sad to say, Nancy Pelosi’s speakership was more successful than this guys will EVER be.

portlandon on January 31, 2014 at 11:24 AM

That’s because the Cryptkeeper fought FOR her base. Crybaby Boner just fights his base.

cableguy615 on January 31, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Doesn’t the persistent echo in there bother you?

thatsafactjack on January 31, 2014 at 6:16 PM

When I’m trying to talk to you? Sure, I do get tired of the echo. The upside is that when I listen into your ear I can hear the ocean.

Just to be clear, my own congressmen are already holding the line against any amnesty so I’ve been emailing and phoning other key congressmen in order to apply pressure where it might do the most good.

I’ve also been emailing and phoning Boehner and Priebus every day.

I encourage all of you who have yet to do so to take a few minutes out of cruising the internet to do so.

thatsafactjack on January 31, 2014 at 6:35 PM

Thank you.

V7_Sport on January 31, 2014 at 10:03 PM

If they pass amnesty this summer and Republican voters protest by staying home in November, fine. That means fewer tea partiers end up in Congress next year, which Boehner can live with.

There’s a part of this equation you’re either missing, or leaving out intentionally:

Boehner tries to force amnesty,…

‘Republican’ voters turn into ‘TEA’ party voters, and MORE tea partiers end up in Congress next year…in which case (and rightly so), He’s completely ph*cked.

a5minmajor on January 31, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Bingo a5minmajor….This is one NON Tea Party ‘Pub that my mainstream BFF’s….Ryan,Christie,Boehner, Cantor et. al. are driving right over the cliff with their inane strategy.
We need to win the SENATE THIS YEAR.
Why take the focus off the economy and Obammacare aand raise an issue that the DEMS will always win on…because they will always go further than us.

We need immigration reform…on our terms… and 2015 is the time for that. If this thing gets pushed over the objections of the base…I’m becoming a base jumper. I think there are many more like me.

camaraderie on January 31, 2014 at 11:01 PM

Is there some reason why AllahPundit and others assume that Boehner won’t just try to pass immigration reform during the lame duck session after the election day? It’s the best of both worlds for Boehner.

Robert_Paulson on February 1, 2014 at 12:44 AM

News Flash.

If the President decides not to enforce the immigration laws of the nation, which is the current situation, then there is nothing Congress can do about that short of impeachment.

So we are in a unique moment in American history. We stand on the threshold of an election which will probably make 2010 look like a minor chastisement of the Democrats. Not only is the House majority secure but significant gains are possible. The Senate becoming Republican looks very much like a done deal. Rather than hammering the administration on its incompetence and criminality, the GOP has elected to give the Democrats an escape hatch on Obamacare and to carry out a bloody civil war over immigration.

We are led by buffoons. We deserve to lose.


Schadenfreude on February 1, 2014 at 1:18 AM

It is easy to tell the Republicans, and in particular Mr. Ryan, have developed this using an “inside-out” approach. That is, based on some external factor be it polls, lobbyists or a combination of the two.

A ‘principled” approach demands enforcement of the law, because that is where this debate begins and ends. If people did not break the law, or perhaps if the president duly enforced them we would not have the problem which exists today.

Those pushing this current approach state they realize both of the aforementioned are issues. How-so? By granting some type of legal status or privileged to those who have broken the law? By negotiating a “comprehensive” deal with the president as he cavalierly ignores current law?

And where is our leadership on this? Well, one would surmise they are not “leading” but engaging in the public parlor game of floating trial balloons in the press to either see which way the wind is blowing or cover for a conclusion they’ve already reached. Or perhaps they are chasing the latest Democrat misadventures such as marijuana legalization to determine how they can be relevant there also.

This is foolish, tactical meandering so bereft of principle and any semblance of a cohesive, repeatable, easily articulated positions, that it is as much confusing, as it is damaging to party reputation.

Good luck with this in November. Especially as the economic disaster rolls on, millions more loss their health insurance and institutions such as Congress become marginalized, former shells of what they once were.

Marcus Traianus on February 1, 2014 at 6:27 AM

When capitulation–in order to win–is based upon rewarding lawbreakers, then why bother to even have a party?
Principle matters most. Character matters most. Right and wrong matter most, and to reduce right and wrong to mere casual utilitarian elements (like their are footballs to be bounced around to win)is to continue with the destruction of this nation and what was once known proudly as –the free world.

Don L on February 1, 2014 at 7:15 AM

Marcus Traianus on February 1, 2014 at 6:27 AM

Your summation was brilliant!

Don L on February 1, 2014 at 7:23 AM

I think they should start by holding Hearings on the current law and documenting where enforcement would make it better. I think they should hold Hearings on the current law, and see where lawsuits are attacking it’s implementation. AND, someone could sue, a third party, for enforcement of our current laws.

Fleuries on February 1, 2014 at 8:12 AM

There is some immigration reform needed, but it involves legal immigration and not illegal immigration.

Dasher on February 1, 2014 at 8:29 AM

Tea partiers may howl


rubberneck on February 1, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Amnesty rewards lawbreakers. The main lawbreakers rewarded are at the top of the Republican and Democratic parties. That includes former President George W. Bush, who is as bad an amnesty fan as Barack Obama is.

David Blue on February 1, 2014 at 10:31 AM


Facebook, Twitter, Emails, phone calls to their local offices. And on social media make sure you include links in your post so that you can have a quick backup for those that aren’t really hearing all the facts on Amnesty.

The gop leadership are full of LIARS. And they have proven time and time again they cannot be trusted.

We’re all for expanded LEGAL Immigration but NOT OPEN BORDERS you Chamber whores!!!

PappyD61 on February 1, 2014 at 10:38 AM

John Boehner can go f*** himself!

If the Republicans continue this charade instead of actually enforcing the damn laws already on the books, I don’t have a use for any of these feckless, spineless d-bags and I’ll most likely change my affiliation to independent! F***. Them. All!

My blood is boiling over this!

ManWithNoName on February 1, 2014 at 10:46 AM

AP channeling his inner NonPartisan with this bunk.

We know that leftists co-opted the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Foundation (among others) by getting their people into key positions of leadership and then taking over their board of directors. It seems the left has done the same with the Republican party.

The fear that Boehner and his fellow leftists have is that conservatives are close to retaking the party and giving us a real two party system once again. He and his fellow travelers don’t desire that, so they are doing what they can to stop us.

njrob on February 1, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Great for breakfast.
Unacceptable for leaders.

orangemtl on February 1, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Just a few headlines from around the country re: ‘immigration reform’ aka AMNESTY

The GOP’s new immigration deal makes no sense.

Influential House Dem Luis Gutierrez sounds open to House GOP immigration plan.

In the room in Cambridge: Rep says a “lot of frustration” about “why now?”

Ed Meese: We’ve Seen the Effect of “Amnesty” Before

Obama open to GOP immigration plan


Coulter: GOP’s Immigration Plan Is Suicide.

Ted Cruz: Amnesty would destroy GOP chances in 2014 to take Senate.

redguy on February 1, 2014 at 11:53 AM

That’s “non-sensical”, though spell correct apparently disagreed with me.

Admittedly I don’t feel very good about the Boehner screw-up, so maybe non-sensual applies.

MTF on January 31, 2014 at 3:44 PM

That’s because nonsensical is one word without a hyphen.

njrob on February 1, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Marcus Traianus on February 1, 2014 at 6:27 AM

Your summation was brilliant!

Don L on February 1, 2014 at 7:23 AM

If you complain you’re not a “good citizen”

but the right to complain, heck even the right to citizenship should be reserved for those who are willing to go down fighting.

V7_Sport on January 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Schadenfreude on February 1, 2014 at 1:21 PM

If you complain you’re not a “good citizen”

but the right to complain, heck even the right to citizenship should be reserved for those who are willing to go down fighting.

V7_Sport on January 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM


So how does what I wrote signify “If you complain you’re not a “good citizen”? What I wrote is that if you are not willing to fight for the country, in this case, doing the basics of making calls and sending e-mails, then you are not a good citizen. Complaining to get attention here isn’t a badge of honor, it’s nothing to be proud of and it doesn’t do anything but eat up ones and zeros.

V7_Sport on February 1, 2014 at 2:24 PM

How binary of you.

Schadenfreude on February 1, 2014 at 2:45 PM

The GOP establishment will sell out America for money just as the Dems will for votes. Every single poll shows that the illegals will never vote for less government. They are not here to be entrepreneurs. They are here to leech off America, plain and simple. Ask them.

pat on February 1, 2014 at 3:12 PM

a5minmajor on January 31, 2014 at 10:24 PM

That would be awesomeness.

dogsoldier on February 1, 2014 at 5:13 PM

I know we’re the stupid party, but this is ridiculous.

claudius on February 2, 2014 at 12:06 AM

I disagree with the notion that immigration reform is a central issue for Latinos. I think ObamaCare will be a much stronger issue for them, along with jobs and the economy.

thatsafactjack on January 31, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Quite right. Politics isn’t litigation: all this nuanced debate about a single issue (that even latinos don’t care much about) does not decide the fate of government.

Political strategy should focus on the issues most advantageous to your cause. Immigration is not it. Obamacare ™ and the economy are enough to convict the Democrats and to keep them out of government for many years to come.

Boehner (and McConnell’s) leadership weakness is a big issue for the the GOP and immigration is another sorry chapter in their pandering biographies. If we have to talk about immigration, the context should be the need for new GOP leadership, one that can focus on winning issues.

virgo on February 2, 2014 at 4:51 AM

How about we trade Boehner for amnesty, straight up?

Knott Buyinit on February 2, 2014 at 10:37 AM

What a moronic assessment
Amnesty is the death of the Republican Party and the death of any hope for small liberty-loving government.

Come down here to the border, before you write any more of this tripe

TexasJew on February 2, 2014 at 3:50 PM