Although 2014 is an election year, McCain said it’s possible that some lawmakers could be more supportive of the legislation, if they clear primary challenges in the spring and early summer.
“I think conventional wisdom is that time is not on our side,” McCain told reporters. “But there are a number of members of Congress who have primaries and when those primaries are done, they may be more inclined to address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.”…
“It will not gain us a single Republican voter,” he said in response to a question from the club’sbreakfast audience. “But what it will do for the Republican Party is it will allow us to compete for the Hispanic vote. It will give us a playing field where we can argue for lower taxes, less regulation, smaller government, strong military, etcetera. But if we don’t pass it, we will not compete for the Hispanic vote.”
He thinks Boehner and Cantor are going to spearhead a big amnesty push next summer, with the midterms less than six months away? That’s insane. It’d be completely counterproductive, alienating conservatives who’ll otherwise be champing at the bit to vote and throwing the party wildly off from its all-ObamaCare-failures-all-the-time messaging. It’d be a supreme example of the GOP shooting itself in the foot at a moment of strength. So … yeah, this seems entirely plausible.
Wouldn’t early 2015 be a better time for the big amnesty push, though? Having just been reelected, RINOs in the House will feel safer than ever from tea-party wrath in crossing the aisle to pass comprehensive reform. Obama will probably be a bit more willing to bend on concessions, to make the bill cosmetically more conservative, since he’ll be waaaay into lame-duck territory by then and eager to secure one last “achievement” for his resume. The GOP establishment will have their eyes on the upcoming presidential election and will be frantic for the party to re-position itself with Latinos before the campaign gets rolling. That means Boehner and Cantor will be under even more pressure than they have been to bring something to the floor. Granted, the would-be tea-party champions of 2016 like Ted Cruz will resist the effort, but (a) Cruz knows he’ll have to win a general election as nominee so he won’t make too big of a fuss (why would he if he hasn’t already?) and (b) the sooner they pass something in 2015, the more time people will have to forget about it before the primaries begin. As important as immigration is, between O-Care, the economy, and conservative/libertarian wedge issues like NSA surveillance, it’s hard to believe it’ll consume the GOP debates in 2016. It’s more of a litmus test: All the candidates have to do is oppose whatever ends up passing the House and they’ll be acceptable enough on the issue for nomination purposes. Besides, establishmentarians know that grassroots righties are always more forgiving of conservative heresies during a presidential campaign because they’re completely committed to beating the Democrats and taking back the White House. If Hill Republicans are finally going to bite the bullet on comprehensive immigration reform, 2015 seems ideal.
There are, in fact, already defections. Here’s GOP Rep. Jeff Denham, who represents a district with a big Latino population, telling CNN he’ll vote with Democrats on this issue. Pelosi said a few days ago that they already have the votes in the House to pass the Senate Gang of Eight bill, which is no doubt true. All Boehner needs to do is let them vote. Is he really going to resist all the way up to election day 2016?