Boehner in a Bind on Immigration

Passing immigration reform could bolster his party's dismal relationship with Hispanics, yet much of his caucus appears bent on killing the bill, then proudly flashing the murder weapon.

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Alex Wong / Getty Images

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) leaves after his weekly news conference June 6, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

It’s a cliche to say that John Boehner has the toughest job in Washington, but like many cliches, it has a kernel of truth. Consigned to running a caucus that has little interest in governing (and even less in being governed), Boehner’s House has lurched from one crisis to the next. The immigration bill expected to reach House desks next month may be Boehner’s trickiest challenge yet.

Boehner’s bind is this: passing immigration reform could bolster his party’s dismal relationship with Hispanics. Yet much of his caucus appears bent on killing the bill, then proudly flashing the murder weapon. And the Speaker, never much in command of his own troops, finds his own job — and the fortunes of his party — hanging in the balance. “The fate of the Republican Party,” says Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, “may rest in Boehner’s hands.”

If Boehner calculates, as many savvy Republicans have, that passing immigration is in the GOP‘s interest, he could thread legislation through with mostly Democratic support, plus a rump faction of Republicans. (He has done this on other occasions, including the fiscal cliff deal on New Year’s Day and a Hurricane Sandy relief measure, to the chagrin of some colleagues.) But immigration is a charged issue, and Boehner could face an insurrection on his right if he brings a bill to the floor without support from a majority of Republicans, which would violate the so-called Hastert Rule. One House Republican warned the move could cost Boehner his speakership. Asked about the threat Tuesday, Boehner acknowledged it might.

So far the Speaker has been coy about his intentions. On Tuesday he seemed to assure his colleagues that he would not pass a bill without them, but left himself plenty of outs. “Any immigration reform bill that is going to go into law ought to have a majority of both parties’ support,” he said. “And so I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have a majority support of Republicans.” Ought to; not will. And just because he doesn’t “see any way” now doesn’t mean one won’t emerge.

Public support for reform is substantial, and Boehner may decide it outweighs the desire to appease his conference. One Democratic and one Republican polling company recently conducted a joint survey of attitudes toward immigration reform in 29 states. In each, at least 60% of respondents backed reform. The issue cuts across party lines, with conservatives in ruby-red bastions like North Dakota and Texas favoring an overhaul of a system that is universally regarded as broken.

The GOP’s consultant class believes a bill would help the party: witness the latest ad released Wednesday from Crossroads GPS. But they don’t vote. And the lawmakers who do have different motivations. Many are guided not by the fate of their party, but the preservation of their careers. In the Senate, the Republicans advocating reform hail from states with growing Hispanic populations (Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona) or swing states (like Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Marco Rubio of Florida). Others want the achievement on their resume (Rubio again).

Many House Republicans, on the other hand, represent gerrymandered or otherwise arch-conservative districts where the quickest route out of a job is to back a bill tagged with the dreaded “amnesty” label. As National Review reports, conservatives on the House Judiciary Committee — which has begun the process of moving enforcement-only legislation — are vowing to block any immigration measures, no matter how worthy or how conservative.

Boehner has pledged to poll his caucus when it meets July 10, by which time the Senate is likely to have passed the Gang of Eight’s bill. Soon after, he may be faced with a decision between what’s good for his party and what’s good for his job.

39 comments
everettp
everettp

"Bolster his party's relationship with Hispanics"

Right, because if this passes the GOP and the Obama Administration will take the credit. Who are they trying to kid?

arvay
arvay

Like the kind of crowd that sometimes forms when an unfortunate person climbs some tall structure and threatens suicide, many of us are yelling "JUMP!' JUMP! JUMP!"

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

He is Boehner...Lord of the Idiots!

(With apologies to Jerry Seinfeld)

blhart216
blhart216

I just don't get it.  How can the party who are so outspoken on Christianity, bibles and public prayer, use the "Amnesty" word in a negative connotation?  Is amnesty not the crux of Christianity?  Are they not the poster children of  hypocrisy?

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

If they pass an immigration bill, it will be the first thing that the GOP House has done for America in 3 years./  They talk jobs and spend their entire sessions beating up on gays, women (aren't any of them married to a real women and not a submissive mouse?, and 37 bills to kill the Affordable Care Act although they have no alternative other than to have healthcare costs continue to rise, the number of insured continue to fall, and hospitals going under because of uncompensated care.  It would be nice if there was an Amertican in the GOP side of the House and not these traitors to America.  This is what happens when small-minded people elecrt people just like themselves.  Wait until the TeaBots find they are losing theri Medicare because of these nuts.  They really need to just go home and stay there.  The country would be better off without the sideshows of stupidity on a continuing basis! 

MrObvious
MrObvious

Time to break out the waterworks.

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

Let me take a wild guess what's going to happen: 

Nothing.

Jim_Satterfield
Jim_Satterfield

The typical modern Republican member of the House has a basic attitude of "I'm not going to do a single thing unless it's something that can be made into an attack on Obama.".

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Didn't we cover The Weakest Speaker of our times in the comments about 8 hours ago?

Good to see it fleshed out in a full post though.

pamacdonald
pamacdonald

I think that this issue will cost Boehner his leadership either way. If he kowtows to the far right, the Republicans will not have a majority next year.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

One little extra calculation to throw in there: does it hurt more to have Republicans quietly kill the bill by not actually voting on it.....or get a minority of Republican votes to support it while the majority loudly and proudly decry its existence and offend Hispanics of every stripe.

outsider
outsider

I read a story earlier today about how if Boehner decides to use the dems vote to pass the reform, then the party survives, and Boehner is done as speaker. 


If on the other hand, he refuses to, he'll keep being speaker, but the GOP will continue to decline. 

Guess it comes down to what is more important to him; party, or himself. 

outsider
outsider

It’s a cliche to say that John Boehner has the toughest job in Washington, but like many cliches, it has a kernel of truth. Consigned to running a caucus that has little interest in governing (and even less in being governed), Boehner’s House has lurched from one crisis to the next.

This cannot be stated enough times. 

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Alex, thanks for your two posts today. Boehner is in a bind, but one of his own making, so I can't honestly shed any orange tears for him. He allows the teavangelicals in his party to drive the GOP agenda, so he's also letting them write his future legacy as House Speaker, and it won't be a good one. If he really wants to go back to the old deal-making, biz friendly GOP of Bob Dole and Jack Kemp days, he needs to whip the House TP's into line or banish them - he is still the Speaker, yes? He needs to gather the true establishment GOP leaders and financial backers (Fortune 500 CEO's, Wall St. - the old money) to force the Tea's OUT of the GOP. The Tea's have Koch Bros. money; Boehner has the CEO's of most Corporate America. 

Push out the TP's and social conservatives and make them form their own Doomsday Preppers / Duck Dynasty party. Yes, that will split conservative votes in the short term and risk long term too, but the current route of alienating minorities, women, poor, "you people", etc. is also leading to GOP destruction. Alex, I hope YOU, Katy, JNS, Scherer, etc. will interview Boehner one-on-one to make him talk about what HE plans to do to fix his own damn party (or face his own tortured image in the mirror if he stonewalls you after hard but fair questions). And if he can't or won't do anything, he should resign with little dignity he has left. Thoughts, Alex?

Stan_pru
Stan_pru

Comprehensive AMNESTY bill must be defeated, and the ILLEGAL ALIENS sent back from where they came. 

The definition of ILLEGAL ALIEN: noun

1. a foreigner who has entered or resides in a country unlawfully or without the country's authorization.

2. a foreigner who enters the U.S. without an entry or immigrant visa, especially a person who crosses the border by avoiding inspection or who overstays the period of time allowed as a visitor, tourist, or businessperson. Compare resident alien.

Anyone who has committed either of the acts defined in 1. or 2. above has violated the (poorly enforced) immigration laws of the United States of America (still technically a sovereign country with the right to make such laws) and need to be returned to their country of origin. Anything short of returning them to their country of origin (e.x. a “path-to-citizenship, extended visas) provides them with a reward for breaking US Immigration laws, and is in fact de-facto AMNESTY.

see NumbersUSA, Fair.org, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Heritage.org for additional information on the impact and TRILLIONs of DOLLARs of cost on the United States

Stan_pru
Stan_pru

Funny, history demonstrates, election after election, that the 'Latino community ‘has NEVER supported a Republican president, EVEN AFTER A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT SIGNED AN AMNESTY BILL IN 1986.

Again, rather than take the anyone's word for it, please read, digest, and think about the information below.  It is authored by the Pew Research Center(hardly a bastion of conservative thought), and details the presidential election results for the "Hispanic" population. 

A similar study is available for congressional voting record preferences of the "Hispanic" population

Will Hispanics Vote Democrat? A Look at Recent History

http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/2012/11/2012_Latino_vote_exit_poll_analysis_final_11-07-12.pdf

Hispanic's Presidential voting record since 1980 (you do not have to be a statistics major to understand the trend):

–1980 Jimmy Carter, 56% Ronald Reagan, 35% +21

–1984 Walter Mondale, 61% Ronald Reagan, 37% +24 (passes Amnesty)

–1988 Michael Dukakis, 69% George H.W. Bush, 30% +39

–1992 Bill Clinton, 61% George H.W. Bush, 25% +36

–1996 Bill Clinton, 72% Bob Dole, 21% +51

–2000 Al Gore, 62% George W. Bush, 35% +27

–2004 John Kerry, 58% George W. Bush, 40% +18 (Bush = Amnesty supporter)

–2008 Barack Obama, 67% John McCain, 31% +36  (McCain = Amnesty supporter)

–2012 Barack Obama, 71% Mitt Romney, 27% +44

THE 'LATINO COMMUNITY' is NEVER going to VOTE FOR A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT - Get it?

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

@blhart216 If it weren't for double standards, the GOP would have no standards at all. 

manlyman
manlyman

Geez arty, you sound like a typical nutbag sniveling liberal. Such disgusting critters, with zero morals and even less brains and common sense. Talk about small minded.

manlyman
manlyman

Sadly the case is the opposite dear splatterfield. If they had had the stones to attack the sleazy chicago bast.rd early on we definitely would be in much better shape as a nation. He's taking us down, all of us, obutt suckers included.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

Boehrner leading the House is like any of us trying to get a herd of cats to walk in formation.  His problem is that none of them can walk straight-they just go to the right, some far more than the others.  If they were NASCAR drivers, they would all be gone by the end of the first turn.

grape_crush
grape_crush

@outsider2011> Guess it comes down to what is more important to him; party, or himself.

Given that Boehner has already invoked the Hastert rule, that's an easy one.

jmac
jmac

@Stan_pru THe Heritage Foundation is for H-1B - bringing in more highly skilled workers from other countries.  What they don't like is the provision that these workers be paid the going wage - so they won't be hired with a cheaper salary over a qualified American.

The Heritage Foundation is not your friend, Stan, unless you want the top 1% and corporations to keep chipping away at the American working man. 

jmac
jmac

@Stan_pru  You're quoting the Heritage Foundation as you fume about amnesty!   Republican and The Chamber of Commerce insist these 'illegal' workers help the economy in their the low-paying jobs.   That keeps companies from having to pay an American a decent wage - an American who might form a union for decent pay.

Quit griping about them being illegal and then push conservative outfits and vote for conservatives.    It's crazy.  Conservatives want them here.    Yelling about amnesty is juvenile since we've used them for labor.   You're too late.   You can't fight them through a party that wants them here -  and also fight the American worker who wants decent pay. It's crazy.  

tom.litton
tom.litton

@Stan_pru Isn't that a reason to vote for this bill?  

If Latino American demographic is growing much faster than all of the demographics that typically support Republicans, and they are never going to vote Republican, then democrats will soon take over all of the branches of the federal government.  Wouldn't you want to get as much border security as you can before the Latino friendly Democrats get enough votes to pass a more Latino friendly immigration bill?

It seems to me amnesty is inevitable.  It's only a matter of how much border security we get, and how soon they can get legalization.

hivemaster
hivemaster

Not with that attitude, they won't!!

AlexAltman
AlexAltman

@Stan_pru And yet the gulf between GW Bush's 40% to Mitt Romney's 27% sent one to the White House and the other home. 


ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

I had a Tea Pot brain mentaklity and then I turned three and figured out that the world was bigger than just me.  The Tea Paerty and their attitude of "I have mine, to hell with everyone else" isn't "American", isn't "christian" by any manner of speaking, and insulting people who just happen to be far smarter than you just shows how small the Tea Pot brain actually is. You take care of whether you have any morals-that's a full time job.  Any assumptions you make of others are as wrong as the Tea Pot attitude but I guess it makes small-minded people feel "big". 

BobJan
BobJan

@manlyman how'd those two wars, two tax cuts, big drug giveaway to Pharma's, all work out? No use asking, we all know how it worked. "It didn't".

outsider
outsider

No, he's already demonstrated he doesn't care about the country. If he did, there wouldn't be this article wondering what he was going to do.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

You notice that you don't see the National Chamber of Commerce coming down on having ICE go after those who hire illegal workers and lock them up-not just the low-level supervisors but those at the top. 

manlyman
manlyman

Truth is to Altman and the mainstream media, as soap is to a hippie.

outsider
outsider

@manlyman 

Yet you took time to read, and reply to a publication that you think is sleazy and misinformed. 


What does that say about you? 


Personally, i think it means you're full of it. Also that you're trying to spread misinformation. 


Nice handle, btw. Overcompensating much?

manlyman
manlyman

Yeah, yeah, always nice to hear from one of Time's sleazy misinformation distributors.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@TyPollard @AlexAltman @Stan_pru

Literally, oil-and-water mixes work well all the time, as in mayonnaise, vinaigrette salad dressings, and many liquids and creams used in cosmetics and drugs - emulsions - but your point is spot on that math is one of the R's worst subjects (ask Paul Ryan about budgets).