The conventional wisdom for months now has been that immigration reform is dead. Yet hope springs eternal for the large community of activists and interest groups pushing for reform to pass; this group collectively freaked out when, on Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner said House Republicans aren't willing to negotiate with the Senate on the issue.
Should Boehner, whose predictions have a tendency to run aground in the unpredictable Congress, be taken at his word? Not according to Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who was part of the bipartisan "gang" that drafted the Senate bill. At Thursday's Washington Ideas Forum, Schumer told The Huffington Post's Sam Stein that he would still put "quite a bit" of money on an immigration bill reaching the president's desk by the middle of next year.
"I think it will become a reality, because the House is in peril of losing its majority if it does nothing," Schumer said. "They have to do something. The Republican leadership in the House knows that. Speaker Boehner knows that."
It might even happen this year, Schumer said, though he acknowledged that's unlikely because Republicans won't want to change the subject from "all the fuss about Obamacare." But there's "a real good chance" of reform passing in the first half of 2014, he said.
Schumer based his confidence on the political reality facing the GOP. As many as 30 House Republicans could lose their seats if immigration reform fails, he said, while many conservative power brokers, such as Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, and big business want reform. Meanwhile, the bipartisan passage of the Senate bill put pressure on the House to act, he said.
Schumer acknowledged that there is a noisy faction of Tea Party conservatives who oppose immigration reform, but he said it is a minority that Republican leaders will have to confront. "This is a difficult issue for them," he said. "They're damned if they do, damned if they don't."