The best part? The bill they want to force a vote on is their own version of the Gang of Eight bill that passed the Senate, except with … less border security. Which, in fairness, is absolutely true to liberal priorities: Whatever happens on the legalization end of this, this cannot, should not, and will not be the last amnesty.
Remember, it’s Republicans who are the unreasonable party on immigration reform.
Though aides say no decision has been made, House Democratic leaders are strategizing on when to deploy what’s known as a “discharge petition,” which would have to garner a majority of lawmakers’ signatures to force immigration legislation onto the House floor for a vote…
Democrats and advocates are banking on the tactic creating yet another way for lawmakers, activists and voters to compel Republicans to act — particularly those more amenable to immigration reform. One source close to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who endorsed the strategy recently, laid out his thinking: Put enough pressure on key House Republicans that they turn to their own leadership to urge them to move on immigration — even if a discharge petition fails to get the appropriate number of signatures. Schumer is weighing a discharge effort sometime before May…
Only three House Republicans have co-sponsored a comprehensive House Democratic immigration bill that is largely the Senate’s version, minus controversial border-security provisions that have turned off border-state Democrats.
If you can get a majority of the House to sign your discharge petition, you can force the Speaker to bring your bill to the floor. Pelosi’s actually been kicking this idea around since last summer, when Boehner first started hemming and hawing over the Gang of Eight bill. It was too soon to make a move back then; there was no earthly way she’d convince 18 or so Republicans to cross the aisle on a vote as momentous as this when Boehner hadn’t even had time to prepare his own bill. Well, he’s had time now and the best he can come up with is a list of gassy immigration “principles” that fewer than 20 House Republicans are willing to endorse publicly. If she waits another two months, until after various state deadlines for filing for the primaries have passed, she’s got nothing to lose in asking a few dozen jittery centrist GOPers to sign her petition.
She’s got two big problems, though, one of which is that Republicans who sign on with her wouldn’t just be betraying conservatives and border hawks, they’d be knifing Boehner and the RINOs in the back too. The whole point of amnesty from the perspective of GOP strategists is to build goodwill with Latinos by having Republicans play a major part in reform. If the Republican Speaker gets his own bill passed through the House, even if he needs mostly Democrats to do it, that can be spun as “a major part.” If Pelosi gets her bill passed with help from a few dozen no-name Republican backbenchers, Democrats will get all the credit and then that spin becomes … harder. It would take some awfully bold RINOs in the caucus to help her get away with that, especially with the midterms less than six months away by the time any sort of bill happens.
Her other big problem is that she’s pushing a bill that’s actually weaker on core Republican concerns like border security than the much-derided Gang of Eight bill. Why on earth would she do that if the point here isn’t really to pass somethingbut simply to maximize pressure on Boehner to propose something of his own? If she organized a discharge petition around the Gang of Eight bill instead of the House Democrats’ bill, there’s at least a chance she’d win some Republican votes. Jittery centrist GOPers could simply say they were supporting the same bill that Marco Rubio voted for in the Senate (before he began distancing himself from it, natch). Even if Pelosi lost some Democratic votes because lefties refuse to support the Gang of Eight’s plan for “tough” border security, that’s okay; again, per the excerpt above, the point here is simply to embarrass Republicans, not to get something passed. Having the House GOP line up to oppose a bill that Senate Republicans helped pass would give Democrats their talking point. And if, somehow, Pelosi did find a few dozen Republicans to sign a discharge petition and help pass the Gang of Eight bill, the bill could then proceed directly to Obama’s desk for signature. That’s not the case if House Democrats passed their own immigration bill, as that would have to be reconciled with the Senate bill and then more agonizing votes would follow.
The reason House Dems want to push their own bill, I guess, is that if you’re going to pander, you might as well pander all the way. They know that centrist Republicans are too gutless to put their names on a discharge petition for amnesty, even though we all know they’d happily vote for it if they could keep their vote secret. The point here for Pelosi is simply to signal to Latinos that Democrats are trying to give them everything they want (even less border security than Chuck Schumer agreed to!) and they’re being thwarted by the racist Republicans. Might as well add an “instant citizenship” provision for illegals to the bill too. Go all out.