Boehner offered to schedule a vote on Ted Cruz’s anti-DACA bill if House conservatives agreed to pass his bill first. No dice. You can understand why: By splitting Cruz’s bill off into a separate bill instead of attaching it to his own, Boehner was setting it up for failure. Either the House would have killed it or the Senate surely would have killed it. The only way to keep the DACA issue at the center of the border-crisis debate is to make it part of the House leadership’s offer and force Reid and Obama to dig in on it. Evidently Boehner wouldn’t do that.
And so we head to the August recess with no Republican proposal on the table.
Faced with certain defeat, Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled the legislation from consideration Thursday afternoon, according to guidance from leadership advisers. With more than 20 House conservatives opposed, Boehner did not have enough votes from his own Republican ranks because virtually all Democrats opposed the legislation…
With almost no Democratic support, Boehner needed to corral votes virtually entirely from within his own Republican caucus, and he faced a group of House conservatives who worked hand-in-hand with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in plotting their strategy to bring down the legislation in pursuit of a more purely conservative approach.
Democrats blamed Boehner for chasing after conservative votes that were never going to materialize, after he initially proposed a more robust $1.5 billion plan that likely would have drawn some Democratic votes. Instead, as conservatives balked at that price tag, GOP leaders shrank the bill in an effort to grow the Republican vote – while losing Democrats.
“The worse the bill, the more votes on the Republican side,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in the closing minutes of the debate.
Kay Granger, who helped write Boehner’s bill, said they got to 214 votes, among them conservative stalwart Jeb Hensarling. It’s interesting that Boehner preferred to see the bill tank rather than tweak it by adding in some Democratic proposals in hopes of getting to 218 with help from Pelosi’s caucus. I wonder if that’s because he thought he couldn’t find enough votes there either or because the politics of immigration are so hot right now, with border hawks like me perpetually nervous about the leadership playing ball on amnesty, that he decided failure was more palatable than selling out.
Here’s the leadership’s statement. Read it closely and tell me which line pops out at you.
Boehner statement pic.twitter.com/jbdUO1wBgl
— Stefan Becket (@becket) July 31, 2014
“There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now without the need for congressional action”? I realize they’re hinting that he can expedite deportations himself, without any action by Congress, but this is not an idea you want to push at a moment when you’re suing the guy for unlawful executive action and your base is frantic that he’s going to unilaterally amnestize five million illegals. In fact, as Gabe Malor says, the House’s failure to pass a bill will be used by O as further evidence that he needs to act alone. “See? Not only can’t the House and Senate agree, even House Republicans can’t agree. I need to step in.” And here’s Boehner all but encouraging him.
But look. Obama already threatened to veto Boehner’s bill even if it passed the Senate, which it wouldn’t have. Nothing substantive was lost here, just a talking point during the recess. Maybe Cruz’s ploy will work and the leadership will come back in September newly willing to add an anti-DACA provision to their own offer. And even if not, Cruz fans can take comfort that he’s well positioned now to carry the anti-amnesty banner in 2016. Much to the horror of Republican establishmentarians, it looks like he’s going to campaign on ending Obama’s amnesties for DREAMers and, inevitably, for adults. You’ll have one candidate in the race running right-ish on this issue.
Update: One last gasp left before the recess?
GOP leadership aides say a considerable number of R's are demanding to vote on something to address #border crisis before leaving town
— Ed O'Keefe (@edatpost) July 31, 2014
Update: Hold the phone. There’s a hastily scheduled conference huddle at 3 p.m. Can they get four votes?
Update: The recess is postponed, if just for a day.
RT @BresPolitico: House Republicans will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, per GOP sources
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) July 31, 2014