House Republicans must not go to conference with the Senate on immigration

We are, as a general matter, not as tough on the speaker as are some of our friends on the right. We understand he is dealt a tough hand controlling only one half of the legislative branch in a Democratic Washington. There are limits to his power. At times, as in the negotiations over the fiscal cliff, he has been able to choose from a menu only of bad choices. But the immigration fight is different. It is relatively easy. All he has to do is say, “No.” As in, “No, we won’t pass anything like the Gang of Eight bill. No, we won’t have a conference with the Senate over it. If the Senate wants to pass our reforms, wonderful. Otherwise, we will see you after the midterm elections.”

Instead, Boehner was unwilling to say even what his own position is on immigration on Face the Nation a few weeks ago, repeatedly describing his role as that of a “facilitator.” This is, needless to say, not confidence-inspiring. The speaker has said in the past that he favors comprehensive reform, and there is enormous private pressure from the Republican establishment and donor class to pass a comprehensive bill by hook or crook to “put the issue behind us.”