The president’s conduct is causing more and more House Republicans who had expressed openness on amnesty to revise and extend their earlier remarks. Two of the remaining three Republicans quit the House’s own Gang of Eight last month, complaining of Obama’s lawlessness on immigration. After the acrimony of the partial government shutdown, Raul Labrador (who’d already quit the Gang) said it would be “crazy” to negotiate with Obama on immigration, given his manifest bad faith. And Ted Poe, who was working with Labrador on a non-citizenship amnesty for illegals, has now ruled out any immigration deal, also citing the president’s conduct.
None of this matters if Speaker Boehner follows through on plans to take the McCaul-Jackson Lee border-security bill (a weak measure I write about today on the home page) to go to conference with the Senate. The danger is that the negotiations would result in a bill very much like the Senate’s Schumer-Rubio mess, which then could be passed through the House mainly with Democrat votes (despite Boehner’s reluctant pledge to adhere to the Hastert Rule on any immigration measure). But that strategy is somewhat complicated by the fact that Representative McCaul himself seems to be against using his bill for that purpose. Here’s what an aide on McCaul’s Homeland Security Committee sent me this morning:
Chairman McCaul: “The Senate immigration bill is unworkable, irresponsible and a misguided attempt at appearing to secure the border in order to fast track immigration reform. The House has appropriately started from scratch. The Border Security Results Act is a standalone border security bill which does not address immigration reform. It requires operational control, defined as apprehending no less than 90% of illegal border crossers, in a tight but achievable timeline. I will not support any effort to water down the border control requirements in H.R. 1417.”
This is ambiguous, leaving the door open for the sneaky conference strategy. But the aide added the following, less ambiguous comment: “Rep. McCaul does not believe the Senate’s ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill should go to conference with any immigration or border security bills the House produces.” I take the aide’s word for it, but I’d feel better seeing an unequivocal statement from the congressman himself categorically rejecting any conference for his bill (assuming it passes at all) unless the Senate passes its own border-security-only bill.
Perhaps as a result of all this, amnesty advocates now seem to be looking at next June or July as the time to get amnesty (and even tax increases) through the House. The reasoning is that most Republican members would know by then if they were going to have primary challenges, and those who don’t would be free to vote for amnesty. As National Journal writes: “Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who supports both tough immigration enforcement and a path to citizenship, said waiting until June for a House immigration vote could ‘release the pressure’ on some members who are worried about primary challenges.” Of course this assumes that most House Republicans want to vote for amnesty (and doubling legal immigration), but are held back by the bigoted views of their troglodytic constituents. Could be.