McConnell: No immigration reform this year
It appears that the House GOP's dalliance with immigration reform may be a dead end. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that he doesn't see any way for Senate Democrats and House Republicans to get together and pass any kind of immigration legislation this year.
"I think we have sort of an irresolvable conflict here," he told reporters. "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," said McConnell, whose seat this year is being targeted by Tea Party officials in a primary as well asDemocrats in the general election.
Democrats immediately pushed back against the GOP leader's prediction.
"Sen. McConnell wasn't supportive of the Senate process, and contrary to his view, thus far the House principles leave open a real chance we'll get immigration reform done this year," said a Senate Democratic aide.
Conservative strategists, however, warn Republicans could scuttle their chances of winning control of the Senate by becoming embroiled in a divisive internal debate over immigration.
"If there's one thing that could blow up GOP chances for a good 2014, it would be an explosive debate over immigration in the House," William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, wrote in a public memo to Republicans.
"Bringing immigration to the floor [insures] a circular GOP firing squad, instead of a nicely lined-up one shooting together and in unison at ObamaCare and other horrors of big government liberalism," he wrote.
Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of RedState, an influential conservative blog, said Tuesday that Republicans should unify by focusing on the Affordable Care Act.
"Anyone seeing reports about the CBO today must wonder why the GOP is dividing itself on immigration instead of uniting against ObamaCare," he wrote on Twitter, citing a new Congressional Budget Office estimate that the healthcare reform law could decrease the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade.
Some Republican lawmakers worry Democrats are pushing the issue of immigration as an election-year ruse designed to splinter the GOP's conservative base.
Senate Democrats and President Obama will not accept anything less than a path to citizenship and comprehensive immigration reform coming from the House. This is simply not going to happen. Obama says he's open to proposals from the House, but that the path to citizenship must be included in any House legislation. He is going to be disappointed.
The theory that immigration is getting the big push from Democrats to divide the GOP is a pretty good one. The Democrats know full well that Republicans will never pass anything that grants citizenship for illegals. This is a matter of self-preservation and is not negotiable.
Erickson is also correct; concentrate on Obamacare which is the real election winner for Republicans, not immigration reform.