Outrageous. Not the fact that the House leadership wants to do something on immigration; that’s been common knowledge for 18 months. What’s outrageous is the timing, which, if this AP report is accurate, would confirm our most cynical suspicions about just how gutless and unaccountable Republicans are on this issue. I remember critics predicting last year that Boehner wouldn’t bring something to the floor before the House primaries for fear that a backlash among conservative voters would knock out a bunch of incumbents. He’d wait until just after the primaries had ended to do it, so that conservatives would be powerless to exert any influence over the process.
And sure enough, that’s allegedly exactly what he’s going to do.
Some advocates who've met recently with Boehner say he's talking like he might try for an immigration vote in mid-June.
— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) May 30, 2014
At this point, it doesn’t matter what the bill looks like. You can guess — some sort of modest ENLIST/DREAM amnesty with new security measures built in, designed to irritate conservatives as little as possible. It’s not the substance of it that’s so egregious, it’s the scrupulous unaccountability they’ve demonstrated in trying to pass it. They could have been honest brokers about this by pushing a bill last fall and letting the political chips fall where they may. If that meant primary challenges, so be it; a party that’s as committed to serving its masters in the business lobby as the GOP is should be willing to brave that risk. If the public, including the Republican electorate, is as eager for reform as they claim, they would have been just fine. Instead they’re waiting until practically the minute the primaries are over to reveal their plan, which, let’s face it, is a form of deception. Just like Marco Rubio running in 2010 against “an earned path to citizenship” for illegals and then backing it in 2012 was deception. Just like Mitt Romney pushing “self-deportation” in 2012 and then urging immigration reform before the midterms this year is deception. Just like Eric Cantor campaigning as some hard-ass amnesty opponent before he inevitably pushes a DREAM/ENLIST bill this summer is deception. These people keep lying to you on the assumption that you’ll eat an infinite amount of garbage and then still happily pull the lever for them in November. It won’t stop until you stop. So stop.
What’s the worst that could happen if you stay home? Republicans will still end up holding the House. Their advantage is too great to be lost by any modest conservative boycott. They might lose seats, but which big-ticket legislative items are going to pass with a slightly bluer House that wouldn’t have with a slightly redder one? Amnesty will pass either way. Repealing ObamaCare is basically dead either way as well, as Republicans are increasingly willing to admit. (“One thing you’re beginning to see in surveys is the sense that we’re so far down this path that repeal is not realistic any more.”) The GOP’s giving up on blocking gay marriage too, in case you’re one of the many social conservatives bothered by that. Nate Silver argued a few weeks that the 2014 election is the least important in years, so the time has never been more ripe to use your vote, or non-vote, to send a message to your own party. The only truly terrible outcome I can imagine from righties staying home to protest is that a Democratic Senate would be much more helpful to Obama in confirming a new Supreme Court justice than a Republican one would be. Even there, though, what’s the worst that could happen? Another Sotomayor or Kagan lands on the Court instead of someone slightly more centrist? Regardless of their individual ideological nuances, Democratic appointees are the most reliably partisan hacks on the Court; there won’t be any aisle-crossers a la Kennedy or O’Connor or Stevens no matter whom O appoints. So how much does it matter really?
Reward Boehner and the GOP for their deception and unaccountability and it’ll keep happening, quite possibly in the lame-duck session this fall. (Which, I assume, is when they’re planning a mass amnesty, not something small like ENLIST.) That’s how incentives work. Your call.
Update: Annnnnd, just to lower the stakes a bit further, looks like His Majesty, The King, has decided that some DREAMers will be able to join the military whether the GOP passes ENLIST or not.
The move, which has not been formally announced by the Obama administration, would affect some of the roughly 550,000 undocumented young people granted the ability to remain in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, many of whom have pled with the government to allow them to enlist…
The new change, under a Pentagon recruitment plan called Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, would allow some undocumented immigrants with critical language or medical skills to enlist in the armed forces — considerably limiting the number of Dreamers who would be eligible. Roughly 3,000 legal immigrants have enlisted through the MAVNI program since 2009, and now the program will be open to those who are in the country illegally.
Shinseki, Carney, the Medicare/sex-change ruling, now this. Four separate news dumps on the same Friday afternoon must be a record.
Update: Commenter sentinelrules argues that they can’t vote on a bill by mid-June since nothing’s been marked up yet in committee. I’ll let people who know House procedure better than me respond to that, but whether the vote is held in mid-June or the bill is introduced in mid-June is beside the point here. The point is that, if the AP’s right about a looming immigration push, the leadership’s chosen a strategy of deliberate unaccountability. If they want DREAM or ENLIST or something more ambitious to pass, don’t wait until after Republicans have gone to the polls. Introduce it beforehand and make your case. If you win your primaries then you’ve got a mandate to pass it. If you don’t, you don’t.