The consensus has been growing: immigration reform is virtually dead. Even though there are many risks facing the Republican Party if it looks like it killed it, it will in the end by killed or allowed to die a slow, painful death this year by the Republican House.
If so, once again the 21st century Republican Party has wound up in the end doing precisely the what was the early bidding of key members of the conservative political entertainment complex — notably Rush Limbaugh who said the GOP ” is authoring its demise” with immigration reform since Hispanics would vote Democratic. Once again in the end the party falls in step with a Limbaugh hard line that originally seemed to contradict part bigwig’s initial inclinations — a line that does not attempt to expand the Republican coalition but keeps the existing coalition in place and eschews the concept of consensus in favor of power politics. Polls consistently show widespread support for immigration reform. By killing immigration reform the GOP will also be again showing how it is directed by the Tea Party movement, and the the most conservative parts of its base.
Plus, gerrymandering guaranteed that GOPers who wanted to be re-elected had nothing to fear from Latino voters and everything to fear from conservatives who didn’t want immigration reform.
If the House does pass something, it’ll likely be so far from the bipartisan Senate bill that it would be at variance with what more centrists Republicans or traditional conservative GOPers wanted, unacceptable to Democrats and virtually an insult to Hispanic groups who’ve been clamoring for immigration reform.
Meanwhile, there will be the lingering threat of Republicans not faring well in future Presidential elections as they have kiss off a vital growing demographic. Even if they blame Barack Obama which they are already planning to do (didn’t you know it was all due to Obamacare?) with a cover story that will only convince their base, a question is: will the growing block of Hispanic voters be able to exert their power if states controlled by Republican legislatures are taking swift steps to put in place voter suppression measures now that they no longer have to worry about the section of the Voting Rights Act that had the most teeth?
But you can now see a firm consensus among analysts emerging: it hasn’t officially been pronounced yet, but immigration reform is all but officially dead unless there is some political miracle.
All that remains is a)the posturing to show some attempt to consider the issue b)finding a way to blame the White House and Democrats.
Republicans walked away from their 2012 debacle hell-bent on fixing their problems with Hispanics. Now, they appear hell-bent on making them worse.
In private conversations, top Republicans on Capitol Hill now predict comprehensive immigration reform will die a slow, months-long death in the House. Like with background checks for gun buyers, the conventional wisdom that the party would never kill immigration reform, and risk further alienating Hispanic voters, was always wrong — and ignored the reality that most House Republicans are white conservatives representing mostly white districts.
But won’t this hurt the party in the long run? More from The Politico:
These members, and the vast majority of their voters, couldn’t care less whether Marco Rubio, Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove say this is smart politics and policy.
Republican leaders will huddle with their members Wednesday afternoon to plot their public strategy. But after holding countless listening sessions, it is clear to these leaders that getting even smaller, popular pieces of reform will be a tough sell. The House plans a piecemeal approach: a border-security bill this month, maybe one or two items a month in the fall.
Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) held a town meeting last week where 25 of the 100 people spoke out on immigration — and every single one of them argued for staying clear of anything remotely resembling the Senate-passed bill.
“Our constituents don’t trust our government,” Cotton said. And he is reluctant to pass even pieces of immigration reform that he thinks are needed — like a better tracking system for people in the country on visas — because he is concerned they could become “a Trojan horse in a conference committee for a package that puts legalization first and enforcement later.”
Top Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill see the momentum swinging decidedly against getting a deal this Congress. Rubio persuaded only 13 fellow Republican senators to back the bill; the editors of the National Review and Weekly Standard offered a rare, joint editorial in opposition to it this week; and private GOP headcounts show only a small fraction of House Republicans would ever vote for anything approximating the Senate deal.
*** On the ropes? This has been a bad week if you’re a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. As Speaker John Boehner today huddles with his conference on how to proceed on immigration, it’s clear that the GOP-led House isn’t close to coming up with an immigration bill — at least one that could go to conference. Yesterday’s joint Bill Kristol-Rich Lowry op-ed signaled that part of the Republican establishment is now against reform. And conservatives are now creating new excuses (like the rocky implementation of the health-care law) to oppose immigration reform. So there are two ways to view the status of immigration reform after the Senate passed its bipartisan legislation. One, it’s dying a slow death in the House, as Politico notes, because most House Republicans just don’t have an incentive to pass it. Two, this is just going to be a long process with lots of ups and downs, and House Republicans won’t budge until very late in the year when finally budging becomes their best card to play. But even immigration supporters have to admit that they probably didn’t think they’d be in the position of trying to make House Republicans have to budge late in the year.
*** Will GOP supporters strike back? Given the growing conservative opposition to immigration reform, here’s a question worth asking: Can pro-reform Republicans strike back? Today from his presidential library in Dallas, TX, George W. Bush will be delivering a speech on immigration. But is this going to help convince conservatives or make them even more resistant? Remember, the modern conservative movement hasn’t been too friendly to Bush’s policies or presidential agenda. The GOP-leaning American Action Network is up with a $100,000-plus national TV ad campaign, urging Republicans to support the Senate’s immigration reform bill. But is $100,000-plus enough? And GOP immigration supporters have released a poll showing that Republican primary voters want to fix the immigration system and prefer an imperfect solution to no solution. But is releasing a poll going to do the trick? Right now, the Republicans who want immigration reform to pass have been VERY QUIET lately. Does that change?
The betting? No.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has already seen his poll numbers start to slip. And the Republican Party is a party where many top GOPers increasingly seem afraid to take on the most conservative part of its base — even on an issue where they feel it’s in the national interest to do so and in the party’s long term survival interest. And who (truthfully) wants to be on the bad side of Rush Limbaugh?
The attitude seems to be “consquences schmonsequences” — and perhaps with the Supreme Courts decision on the Voting Rights Act, keeping Republican-unfriendly blocks of voters away at the polls will prove that attitude to be correct.
For immigration reform’s likely wake.