In the end, Boehner and the House GOP seem to have no clear game plan. Behind the scenes, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) seems to be doing the most to try to push open a rapidly closing door. Just last Friday at a town hall event, Ryan said that he wants to see immigration reform brought to the floor for a vote regardless of support from a majority of the GOP caucus. National GOP funders and business interests who see immigration reform as essential to winning back the immigrant vote and reframing the party’s identity should step up their efforts to keep pushing in this direction.
Ultimately, Boehner has several tools he could use. He could, as Ryan suggests, allow an immigration bill — such as that drafted by the bipartisan House Gang of Seven — to move forward without a majority of his caucus’s support. He could also tacitly allow for successful organizing around what’s called a “discharge petition” that shows enough Democrats and Republicans support a bill so that it must move forward. And finally, he could force Goodlatte to pass enough pieces of immigration reform — including a path to citizenship — that it eventually adds up to a whole bill.
Any of these options would allow real work to get done on fixing America’s broken immigration system, signal to immigrant voters that the GOP cares about them and reassure top GOP funders that this is not just a “party of no.” It’s time for the House to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill and put its best case forward to immigrant voters that Republicans truly are the party of the future, not just the Grand Old Party of the past.