Better question: are Republicans ready for it? The House Republican caucus did a faceplant on the issue in a vote this week, failing to muster much more than half of the votes necessary to pass its “compromise” attempt at broad immigration reform. Even Donald Trump’s endorsement failed to eliminate the deep division within the caucus on a bill that probably had no chance in the Senate anyway.
So is this another example of Lucy and the football? Maybe not:
House Republicans’ thorniest issue, immigration, is not going away after Wednesday’s embarrassing defeat of their “compromise” bill.
GOP leaders are planning votes in July on two more narrow bills that are also not guaranteed to pass. Some rank-and-file Republicans want to continue talks on a larger measure in hopes of finding an elusive path to passage.
This is the path that Ted Cruz and Dianne Feinstein are walking, albeit without much success so far. However, one bill would not likely improve prospects for a deal that could get past a 60-vote cloture hurdle:
Several conservatives say they want any bill addressing family separations to also include provisions tightening existing asylum laws and clear language preventing so-called catch and release.
“That’s an essential part of the whole issue,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a House Freedom Caucus leader.
That’s also the opposite of what Democrats want for a trade-off on family separation. Feinstein has been horsetrading for liberalization of asylum requirements as a way to allow more people through in a legal manner, in exchange for rewriting the statutes that prevent family detention. Properly calibrated, that would at least allow the Trump administration to get back to zero-tolerance enforcement for those who cross the border illegally rather than present their asylum requests properly at ports of entry.
As it stands now, though, the status quo suits Democrats far more than it does Republicans, as the existing law and EO force catch-and-release as the only option. If House Republicans pass a bill making asylum requests tougher, it’s not going anywhere in the Senate. And that assumes it gets more than the 121 votes the most recent bill got on Wednesday.
The other bill under consideration doesn’t bother to address either family separations or DACA, let alone border enforcement. Instead, it marries tougher enforcement of e-Verify with an expanded guest-worker program, a deal that might be narrow and balanced enough to pass in both the House and Senate. It doesn’t do anything about the political standoff at the moment, though, so it’s a bit of a non-sequitur. It’s coming up because GOP leaders promised a vote on it in the fumblaya of the past two weeks, and nothing more.
In other words, it appears that House Republicans are getting ready for the kind of stupid and futile gesture that, well, might be entertaining momentarily. For Democrats, mostly. And they’re just the guys to do it!