Boehner caves on immigration bill

Thomas Lifson
House Speaker John Boehner finally got the message the conservative base has been shouting, and has indicated that no immigration "reform" bill will pass the House in 2014. Even better, in his announcement, he made the point that the Obama administration has lost public trust on the issue. Fox News reports that he said:

"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner said. 

Make no mistake, Boehner is not completely abandoning the project of immigration reform, he is merely postponing it, recognizing the political reality that the base would abandon the party if its mandarins insist on anything at all close to amnesty, just as the party is poised to make historical gains in the 2014 election. But the delay is probably the best we could hope for, given the party's focus on attracting Hispanic supporters, and the conviction that the only way to do so is to wink at violations of our sovereignty - unlike Mexico itself, which enforces its border very strictly.

Matthew Boyle of Breitbart provides the backstory:

Wednesday morning at a small meeting of conservative House members called the Conservative Opportunity Society, the topic was immigration-specifically, John Boehner. Despite the loud protestations of his rank-and-file, the House Speaker had come back from the the GOP's retreat in Cambridge, Maryland seemingly determined as ever to get amnesty legislation to the floor in 2014.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen laid it out in blunt terms. "I can't think of a stupider thing for the Republicans to do," Rasmussen told the assembled lawmakers (he thinks the GOP should tackle immigration reform in 2015, after the midterms).

Only 24 hours later, the Ohio Republican finally relented, abruptly hitting the brakes on his immigration push. (snip)

Inside the Capitol, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions began flouting delicate congressional protocol, openly organizing House members against Boehner. His Senate colleagues were following suit. Regulars like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee took shots at Boehner's principles, but pretty soon John Cornyn and even Mitch McConnell were making it clear they thought Boehner was out to lunch.

At the retreat, roughly 40 House Republicans told Boehner face-to-face they wanted nothing to do with immigration in 2014, a large majority of those who spoke.

That day, the hits just kept on coming for Boehner in the conservative media, the greatest indignity being a superimposed sombrero hat on the Drudge Report.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times interviewed Sens. Sessions and Graham who ran interference for the base:

Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who organized opposition in the House toward the leadership's immigration push, said Mr. Boehner's comments were "a recognition of reality." "Obviously, the speaker had some goal to try to do something," Mr. Sessions said, "but we were too far apart on substance to ever realistically expect an agreement with the Democrats."

Republican divisions are so deep, Mr. Sessions said, "it wouldn't end well in any circumstance, so that was the only decision he could make."

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a leading negotiator of the Senate's sweeping immigration legislation, blamed the toxic fallout from the fight over the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Obama's promises since his State of the Union address to use his phone and his pen to wield executive power when Congress will not act has soured some Republicans who might have been persuaded to move forward.

"One of the casualties of Obamacare is it makes it hard for politicians to do big things," Mr. Graham said. "They're complicated to administer, and the president has shown a willingness to unilaterally change provisions that are politically harmful."

It feels a bit surreal to have to celebrate the fact that a political party's most powerful national official finally gets the message from his base, but that is the world in which we live. The DC power elites are so disconnected from their own political supporters that it requires a concerted effort and threats to make them hear what their own voters want.

But this is no small victory. There is now time to address what can be done piece-by-piece to address the very real problems with border enforcement and immigration procedures. Forget "comprehensive" reforms. Obamacare has demonstrated the folly of bills running to thousands of pages. A simple bill tightening border enforcement is the place to start, and the base and the American public as a whole will respond positively -- in 2015.

Update: There was another factor in Speaker Boehner's thinkg. Seth McLaughlin of the Washington Times:

Rep. Raul Labrador said House Speaker John Boehner should lose his leadership post if he pushes forward with immigration reform this year, CQ Roll Call reported.
"I think it should cost him his speakership," Mr. Labrador, Idaho Republican, said in an interview with the Capitol Hill news organization.

Mr. Labrador also refused to rule out running to replace Mr. Boehner - even if the Ohio Republican put the brakes on immigration bills.

 

 

House Speaker John Boehner finally got the message the conservative base has been shouting, and has indicated that no immigration "reform" bill will pass the House in 2014. Even better, in his announcement, he made the point that the Obama administration has lost public trust on the issue. Fox News reports that he said:

"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner said. 

Make no mistake, Boehner is not completely abandoning the project of immigration reform, he is merely postponing it, recognizing the political reality that the base would abandon the party if its mandarins insist on anything at all close to amnesty, just as the party is poised to make historical gains in the 2014 election. But the delay is probably the best we could hope for, given the party's focus on attracting Hispanic supporters, and the conviction that the only way to do so is to wink at violations of our sovereignty - unlike Mexico itself, which enforces its border very strictly.

Matthew Boyle of Breitbart provides the backstory:

Wednesday morning at a small meeting of conservative House members called the Conservative Opportunity Society, the topic was immigration-specifically, John Boehner. Despite the loud protestations of his rank-and-file, the House Speaker had come back from the the GOP's retreat in Cambridge, Maryland seemingly determined as ever to get amnesty legislation to the floor in 2014.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen laid it out in blunt terms. "I can't think of a stupider thing for the Republicans to do," Rasmussen told the assembled lawmakers (he thinks the GOP should tackle immigration reform in 2015, after the midterms).

Only 24 hours later, the Ohio Republican finally relented, abruptly hitting the brakes on his immigration push. (snip)

Inside the Capitol, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions began flouting delicate congressional protocol, openly organizing House members against Boehner. His Senate colleagues were following suit. Regulars like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee took shots at Boehner's principles, but pretty soon John Cornyn and even Mitch McConnell were making it clear they thought Boehner was out to lunch.

At the retreat, roughly 40 House Republicans told Boehner face-to-face they wanted nothing to do with immigration in 2014, a large majority of those who spoke.

That day, the hits just kept on coming for Boehner in the conservative media, the greatest indignity being a superimposed sombrero hat on the Drudge Report.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times interviewed Sens. Sessions and Graham who ran interference for the base:

Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who organized opposition in the House toward the leadership's immigration push, said Mr. Boehner's comments were "a recognition of reality." "Obviously, the speaker had some goal to try to do something," Mr. Sessions said, "but we were too far apart on substance to ever realistically expect an agreement with the Democrats."

Republican divisions are so deep, Mr. Sessions said, "it wouldn't end well in any circumstance, so that was the only decision he could make."

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a leading negotiator of the Senate's sweeping immigration legislation, blamed the toxic fallout from the fight over the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Obama's promises since his State of the Union address to use his phone and his pen to wield executive power when Congress will not act has soured some Republicans who might have been persuaded to move forward.

"One of the casualties of Obamacare is it makes it hard for politicians to do big things," Mr. Graham said. "They're complicated to administer, and the president has shown a willingness to unilaterally change provisions that are politically harmful."

It feels a bit surreal to have to celebrate the fact that a political party's most powerful national official finally gets the message from his base, but that is the world in which we live. The DC power elites are so disconnected from their own political supporters that it requires a concerted effort and threats to make them hear what their own voters want.

But this is no small victory. There is now time to address what can be done piece-by-piece to address the very real problems with border enforcement and immigration procedures. Forget "comprehensive" reforms. Obamacare has demonstrated the folly of bills running to thousands of pages. A simple bill tightening border enforcement is the place to start, and the base and the American public as a whole will respond positively -- in 2015.

Update: There was another factor in Speaker Boehner's thinkg. Seth McLaughlin of the Washington Times:

Rep. Raul Labrador said House Speaker John Boehner should lose his leadership post if he pushes forward with immigration reform this year, CQ Roll Call reported.
"I think it should cost him his speakership," Mr. Labrador, Idaho Republican, said in an interview with the Capitol Hill news organization.

Mr. Labrador also refused to rule out running to replace Mr. Boehner - even if the Ohio Republican put the brakes on immigration bills.