My article on the homepage today looks at the challenging prospects for immigration reform in the House of Representatives, in particular the desire among conservatives to forestall any efforts to proceed to a conference committee with the Senate and the Gang of Eight bill:
With President Obama renewing his efforts to pressure House Republicans into passing immigration-reform legislation, opponents of the Gang of Eight bill hope to increase awareness about the potential pitfalls of going to a conference committee with the Senate and to pressure House leaders to refrain from doing so…
Conservative opponents of the Gang of Eight bill have been expecting this push for some time, and they have sought to dispel assumptions that immigration reform is a dead issue. They are wise to the procedural tricks that proponents could employ to increase the chances that comprehensive legislation would be signed into law. If the House passed a series of individual bills, for example, they could easily be cobbled together into one large package; lawmakers could also informally negotiate an agreement in the absence of a conference. Many conservatives think that going to conference with the Senate bill would produce a final product resembling that bill and that House Republicans would then face considerable political pressure to accept it.
Additionally, the budget showdown of the past few weeks has left House Republicans even more distrustful of the Obama administration, and the president’s willingness to negotiate in good faith:
Representative Raul Labrador (R., Idaho), a prominent supporter of immigration reform and a member of the (now disbanded) House version of the Gang of Eight, has said “it would be crazy” for House Republicans to negotiate with Obama on immigration reform, because the president would never do so in good faith.
“He’s trying to destroy the Republican Party . . . and I think that anything that we do right now with this president on immigration will be with that same goal in mind, which is to destroy the Republican party, and not to get good policies,” Labrador said last week during a meeting with conservative lawmakers hosted by the Heritage Foundation.
Even Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), a chief architect of the Gang of Eight bill, acknowledged over the weekend that President Obama has “undermined” the effort to pass immigration reform. “I certainly think that immigration reform is a lot harder to achieve today than it was just three weeks ago,” Rubio said on Fox News Sunday.
As Rubio also noted, many Republicans look at an administration that has been all too willing to disregard the law — and act unilaterally to delay certain provisions without congressional consent – when it comes to the implementation of Obamacare, and think there would be little stopping the White House from selectively enforcing the provisions of a large, comprehensive immigration-reform package.
GOP members of the House version of the Gang of Eight cited this lack of trust as a key factor in their decision to withdraw from the group in September. ”It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system,” Representatives John Carter and Sam Johnson of Texas said in a statement.