House Republicans will start this month with a border-security bill drafted by Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas. McCaul echoes his colleagues’ sentiments when he derides the last-minute Senate border-security amendment as a “bunch of candy” thrown in to “attract votes.” The core of the House GOP approach to immigration reform will start with border security. If it achieves coherence and success there, it may set the table for action for other parts of immigration reform. But the House GOP will start slowly and see if it can generate more momentum. Think of it as renewable energy Republicans might actually like. One experienced GOP lobbyist very close to the House GOP leadership approach described matters this way: “They have to start with the easiest (relatively speaking) parts and move onto the next level of difficulty. It’s a little like a legislative game of Angry Birds, where each stage gets progressively more complicated and dangerous. And the pigs get bigger. But to win you have to earn more stars.”
As with most important cultural trends in America, I know little about and have no experience with Angry Birds. But as I understand it, the game requires birds to destroy pigs in pursuit of eggs. As things get more difficult, more birds with varied skills and talents become available, but the pigs grow larger and more resilient. But let me also focus on the “Angry” side of the metaphor, because it’s crucial to understanding the gut-level attitude that House Republicans have toward the Senate immigration bill.
“The Senate bill has zero momentum,” a top House GOP leadership aide told me. “We will not rush through a massive bill that hands massive new resources and powers over to a federal government that has shown itself unable to guard civil liberties or effectively manage those powers and resources.”
That sounds angry.