Boehner Super PAC aides pushing Senate immigration bill?

Normally it’s the opposite of news that an establishment GOP outfit is pushing amnesty, but there’s been chatter on both the left and right over the past few days that immigration reform might be dead because of signals being sent by House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte. If it’s dead, someone forgot to tell Boehner’s favorite Super PAC:

AAN is housed in the same office as the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with Boehner, and the two organizations share senior aides, including Brian O. Walsh, the president of both organizations, and Dan Conston, the spokesman for both.

Boehner spoke at a fundraiser for CLN earlier this summer and also headlined the organization’s inaugural event. The group’s website has posted links to numerous news stories that refer to the group as “Boehner’s” super PAC.

The AAN’s e-mail, sent to GOP offices, touts the number of jobs the group estimates the Senate bill would create for the congressional district and state of that office. The group also released an embeddable “widget” that allows users to find out how many jobs the Senate bill would create in the district of their representative.

Conston, the spokesman for both AAN and CLN, said the analysis, based on the Senate bill, is “simply about broadly showing the local economic benefits of reforming a broken visa system — a problem House Republicans want fixed.”

Goodlatte told Hugh Hewitt that he opposes a “special” path to citizenship for illegals — including DREAMers — and then said something to a townhall audience that made it sound like he thought the House would end up producing something that Obama would never sign. That was a reference to a path to citizenship too, I take it; Democrats have insisted all along that they want a path in the final bill. Is it really a dealbreaker for them, though? Legalization, not citizenship, is the real key for amnesty fans since they can always apply pressure to get the latter later once the former has been secured. Over to you, Mickey Kaus:

First, Goodlatte might be negotiating.

Second, just because there’s no “special path” to citizenship doesn’t mean there can be no non-special paths to citizenship…

Third, and most important, odds are overwhelming President Obama would sign a Goodlatte-style bill that legalized immigrants without providing a ‘special” citizenship path. Democrats know they can go back and add it later (while in the meantime they beat up Republicans for advocating second-class status). I even think Obama would sign a bill banning illegals, including so-called Dreamers, from ever being eligible for citizenship. A permanent ban can be changed too. …Meanwhile the “non-citizenship” approach is just the sort of tough-sounding gimmick that might let a majority of Republicans sign off on a legalization bill. … It’s what Nancy Pelosi would call a “poison pill” that’s “not lethal.”

Far more troubling, for Obama and the Dems, are Goodlatte’s occasional hints that legalization would only come “after you have the borders secure and these enforcement mechanisms in place.” That’s a dealbreaker for Dems, because it means they can’t pocket the legalization and then vitiate the enforcement. … But maybe all that has to be in place is a “pathway to a secure border.” There are plenty of ways for Goodlatte to fudge that requirement if he wants to. …

I don’t agree that O would sign a bill permanently barring illegals from citizenship, even with an eye to undoing it later. The politics are simply too terrible for him since it would, at least for awhile, deprive the left of arguing that only Republican meanies could support second-class status for illegals. The rest is spot on, though. The real significance of Goodlatte’s comments to Hewitt is when he implied that illegals will get nothing — not even legal status — until “after you have the borders secure.” That’s a true impasse with Democrats. They can tolerate a House bill that offers no newly created path to citizenship for illegals but allows them to seek citizenship through current channels once they’ve been here for a number of years (which many Republicans, including Rand Paul, have already touted), but if Boehner and Goodlatte do what border hawks want and demand a security trigger before any sort of new legal status is granted to illegals, then amnesty really is dead. Anyone think that’s likely to happen, though, given the actions of Boehner’s Super PAC aides and Goodlatte’s interest in a DREAM-style bill for young illegals? If the point of all this is to earn goodwill with Latinos, handing a bill to Obama that he vetoes because it’s “too harsh” (or whatever phrase the Democrats come up with) won’t help much. I think they need to pass something he can sign, even if it’s a more limited DREAM-type amnesty. Which is why Kaus is probably right that Goodlatte’s just negotiating.

The X factor here, as DrewM pointed out this morning, is that the GOP leadership’s facing serial disappointments of the base this fall in the debt ceiling fight, the continuing resolution on the budget, and the tea-party “defund ObamaCare” initiative. They’re not going to want to go 0 for 4 by disappointing them on immigration too. That’s the grander mystery of the next few months in Congress: They’ll have to draw the line somewhere to give the base a reason to turn out next year, but where? Maybe taking a hard line on amnesty will be their get-out-of-jail-free card on the rest.