You can consider immigration reform dead, again. Just a week after House Republican leaders circulated their plan to provide a path to legal status for undocumented adults, Senate Republicans have proclaimed it's not worth pursuing. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who supports comprehensive reform and sponsored the Senate's now-dead Gang of Eight bill, said Tuesday,
I think we have sort of an irresolvable conflict here. The Senate insists on comprehensive [legislation]. The House says it won’t go to conference with the Senate on comprehensive and wants to look at [it] step by step. I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place.
House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor offered a plan that would include a path to legal status, but not citizenship, for illegal adults. Dreamers, or the children of undocumented immigrants, would be offered a path to citizenship under the House plan. This is not as comprehensive as the bipartisan Gang of Eight bill.
So neither plan will gain momentum before the midterm elections. Now that Senate Republicans are gunning for the majority in November 2014, they don't see the need to work with House Republicans or the President on an immigration deal. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who was originally part of the gang of eight, has since backed away from reform. He blames President Obama. While he thinks most Americans can agree on the House Republicans' plan, he says there's "a sincere lack of trust, well-grounded, that this administration will enforce the security components of it no matter how they're written." He's referring to the fact that reform activists have called for Obama to stop deportations whether or not reform happens. The administration says it has no plans to stop deportations of illegal adults.
In the House, some Republican members are now threatening to fire Boehner if he brings immigration reform to the floor. Rep. Raúl Labrador told Roll Call on Tuesday evening,
I think it should cost [Boehner] his speakership. ... There is a hunger in the conference for bold, visionary leaders, and this is not just conservatives ... I think you’re going to see some changes here in the House over the next year.
Rep. Justin Amash and Rep. Thomas Massie have come out and said that they would like to see Labrador as speaker. All three are members of the Tea Party.
Sen. Ted Cruz told Robert Costa at The Washington Post on Tuesday that the time for immigration reform is 2015. He insists, "It makes utterly no sense to affirmatively, voluntarily change the topic to amnesty right before what is poised to be an historic election victory for Republicans. I guarantee you President Obama and Harry Reid are dancing in their offices at the desire of the Washington beltway crowd to light themselves on fire." While Cruz doesn't oppose reform, he wants Republicans to wait until they have a majority in the Senate to pursue it. Expect to hear a lot more about Obamacare and a lot less about immigration reform in the coming months.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.