Senate Dems preparing to ram immigration bill through after Easter recess?

If it’s not instantly clear to you why they might want to do this, you weren’t following the news when they tried to pass comprehensive reform in 2006 and 2007. Mickey Kaus had a post on that very subject yesterday. The tangle of interest groups in immigration reform is such that the public is almost guaranteed to dislike a proposed bill the more time it spends looking at it. Possible solution, then: Don’t let them look at it. Pass the damned thing as quickly as you can, with as little debate as you can, and then let voters make peace with it in due time.

As Lindsey Graham recently said, “You don’t want to leave it hanging out for two weeks to get shot up.”

The Senate’s Democratic leaders may try to rush a nation-changing, economy-shaping immigration law though the Senate as soon as the Easter recess ends April 8, before the public can even read the bill, say GOP insiders.

The GOP’s concerns are fueled by the Senate judiciary committee’s failure to schedule any hearings so that senators, advocates and the public can analyze the draft bill, which is expected to be several hundred pages long…

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, the GOP’s lead opponent of the amnesty measure, slammed the committee’s fast-track strategy.

“In rushing the health care bill to passage, Nancy Pelosi infamously said that ‘we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it,’” he said in a statement to The Daily Caller.

“Unfortunately, it appears these same tactics are being applied to the passage of a massive comprehensive immigration bill,” he said.

Per the DC, the Judiciary Committee’s set to hold two hearings related to immigration next week. Beyond that, they seem to be leaving things to the subcommittee on immigration, which is chaired by, er, Chuck Schumer.

Two questions. One: There are, I hope, enough amnesty opponents left in the Senate’s GOP caucus to slow this thing down by making a fuss about the process. Sessions obviously is on guard here; he, Tom Coburn, Jim Inhofe, and Ted Cruz are all safe bets too to place a hold on the bill if things move too fast. Failing that, given the success of Rand Paul’s filibuster, I wonder if you won’t see some similar (probably joint) effort on the Senate floor to slam on the brakes and try to talk the bill down. They’re bound to have Mitch McConnell’s support if they try, as there’s no way he’ll let Democrats steamroll the conservative base on this issue when he’s staring at reelection next year. In fact, if Schumer, McCain, Graham et al did try to ram something through, I wonder if they’d force Rubio into the opposition. His strategy on immigration, and it’s a shrewd one, is to engage directly with the base via talk radio and other media and try to persuade them on the merits of the Gang of Eight’s bill. Even if he fails, he gains some respect by seeking their approval instead of running away. (Remember how effusive Rush Limbaugh was in praising Rubio after he appeared on his show to talk about Gang of Eight plan.) That may be enough to protect him from a grassroots backlash in 2016 even if the bill ultimately passes. If, however, they end up sneaking it through the Senate with his support, without the bill being debated openly, that’s all up in smoke. The rap on him will be that he sandbagged opponents to help the Democrats shield it from democratic scrutiny. I don’t think he survives that in a Republican primary and he’s smart enough to know it. He’s much, much better off politically if the bill fails despite his support than if it succeeds through a scurrilous process. If Sessions’s worst fears are realized, Rubio has no choice but to try it slow down.

Two: Even if it gets through the Senate, how does it get through the House? If you think Boehner’s going to try to pass this the way he did the fiscal-cliff deal, with a giant group of Democrats and a few centrist Republicans to get to 218, you’re kidding yourself. House conservatives have already warned him about violating the “Hastert Rule.” If he did it again on an issue as radioactive as amnesty, I have to assume it would mean the end of his Speakership — especially if the base was already angry at being steamrolled in the Senate. So he’ll need a majority of Republicans to do this, and there’s no way he’s getting that majority if there’s an uproar among the base about McCain and Grahamnesty having short-circuited Senate debate to push through their immigration agenda before anyone notices. It would mean primary challenges galore in House races. So tell me, in light of all that, if Reid and the Gang of Eight are planning on ramming this through, how exactly do they do it? Sounds to me like Sessions and other amnesty opponents are leaking this scenario not because it’s likely or even possible but because it’s an early way to mobilize grassroots alarm about the bill, which will come in handy once it does hit the Senate floor eventually.