House Speaker John Boehner hammered the last nail into the coffin of the Senate immigration reform proposal on Wednesday. "We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill," he told reporters, according to NBC News. Weirdly, Republicans seem to see this as presenting an obstacle to President Obama, instead of to future Republicans.
On Tuesday, we looked at Obama's flustered attempts to get Congress to move forward on an immigration bill that would present a pathway to citizenship or legal status for those who are here without documentation. The Senate passed its bill in June by a wide margin. Since, the House hasn't done anything on the Senate proposal, repeatedly either shrugging at taking it up or laughing at the prospect.
Perhaps getting tired of the question, Boehner put his foot down. A conference committee discussion on the topic — similar to the on-going negotiations over the Farm Bill and the budget — could have helped the two chambers reach consensus on something that could be signed into law. NBC explains why that won't happen:
[S]ome conservatives had been pushing against House passage of any immigration legislation, arguing that Senate Democrats would use the conference to inject more liberal policies and then force Republicans in the House to stomach changes they say are unfair to those who came to the country legally.
And so Boehner on Wednesday: "no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill." House members have been working on piecemeal approaches to the issue, but Boehner also declined to indicate whether or not any of those would come up for a vote.
What's distinctly odd about this, about Obama's eager push for a bill and about the House's recalcitrance, is that immigration reform passed in the Senate becuase of concerns from the Republicans. In the aftermath of Mitt Romney's 2012 loss, passing immigration reform became a mantra throughout much of the party, a way to rebuild its relationship with Latino voters. It seemed all-but-inevitable. Even archconservative Sean Hannity supported passing some measure.
A report in the Los Angeles Times explains that now-lost urgency. A poll conducted by the paper showed how ethnic make-up has affected voting in that already-liberal state.
Among white California voters, almost four in 10 are Democrats and four in 10 are Republicans. But among Latinos 55% are Democrats and only 15% are Republicans. …
The collision between ethnicity and age is even more lethal. Six in 10 white voters are over 50, making them prized in the present but not dependable in future decades. The reverse is true for Latinos, 64% of whom are age 49 or younger. Overall, among all voters, 35% of those 50 and over are Republicans; of those younger, only 23% were.
In other words, time is working against the Republican Party. RNC Chair Reince Priebus conducted an internal assessment after the Romney loss, which reinforced the urgent need to engage Latinos — a group Romney lost by 44 points. The key to wooing those voters? "In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door."
On Wednesday, one door slammed shut, John Boehner flicking the deadbolt in a practiced motion. The Republican party could still pick up an immigration proposal — probably one significantly more conservative than the one from the Senate, but, still, something. A path to citizenship would help millions of immigrants sleep better at night. And, for that matter, Reince Priebus.