Friday, June 28, 2013

Will Immigration Reform Pass the House of Representatives?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 10:29 AM

There's been a lot of reaction to the Senate passage of the Gang of Eight's comprehensive-immigration reform legislation, which won the votes of 68 senators after billions in spending on a "border surge" was added to the package.

Congressman Raul Grijalva's reaction:

This is a time to move together on a bipartisan basis and really do the people’s business. Speaker Boehner can show some leadership or keep playing the same political games that have Congress’ approval rating at a historic low. The American people are watching every step of this process very closely, and the next step is letting the House take a vote. Hiding and making excuses are not on the table.

But Grijalva is no fan of the "border surge":

The amendment is a classic case of excess, overreach, overreaction, and wasting taxpayer money, and I reject the idea that it’s the only way to make this country safe. The American people deserve a real debate about the merits of this militarize-the-border approach, because after years of trying it, we don’t have much to show for it.

We need to start hiring more officers at ports of entry to increase cross-border commerce and create jobs. We need to start considering the impacts our current law enforcement approaches are having on border communities. We’ve been treating immigration reform as a pure ‘lack of resources’ question for political reasons long enough. Let’s look at the real issues at stake for a change. Speaker Boehner can take that important step any time he chooses.

Congressman Ron Barber:

I am pleased the Senate took much-needed action today to fix our nation's broken immigration system. For too long, Arizona has shouldered the burden of illegal immigration and it is long-past time that the federal government steps up to its responsibilities to the people of Arizona and the nation.

We must ensure the safety, security and economic well-being of Southern Arizonans and those who live and work near the border. I call on House leadership to quickly bring a bipartisan immigration plan to the floor that secures our border, strengthens our nation’s economy and addresses our broken immigration system in a fair and efficient manner.

My constituents cannot afford to wait any longer while this issue remains unresolved because of Washington gridlock and partisan politics. We must come together and act now.

We're waiting to see if Barber has any comment on the "border surge" in particular.

Whether the bill can make it through the House of Representatives remains the big question. Slate's Dave Weigel interprets House Speaker John Boehner's latest comments about the bill here as a sign that Boehner won't allow an "amnesty" bill to get through a conference committee.

New York magazine's Jonathan Chait sees a procedural way to get the Senate bill through the House:

The only way to pass a bill is with Democrats supplying most of the votes. But John Boehner has promised conservatives he won't let any bill lacking support from most Republicans come to a vote — which, if kept, would doom immigration reform. That's what everybody, including me, has been saying.

But it's not completely true.

There's a way around this problem: the discharge petition. If 218 members of the House sign one, then it automatically comes to the House floor for a vote. Last December, Democrats in the House threatened a discharge petition to bring up a Senate bill extending the Bush tax cuts on income under $250,000 a year.

House Democrats would have to do it again with the Senate immigration bill. Democrats only have 201 votes, so they'd need seventeen Republicans to join them, plus one for every Democrat who defects.

Could it work? Well, discharge petitions are rare. But the circumstances here are rare, too. For the majority party, signing a discharge is an act of disloyalty against the leadership. It undermines the Speaker's ability to control what comes to a vote.

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