Skip to main content

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner leaves the U.S. Capitol in Washington December 29, 2012. REUTERS
Whether immigration reform survives or fails is entirely dependent on whether House Speaker John Boehner wants to remain in power.
While I'm an on-the-record pessimist on chances that the House will pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, chamber Democrats are (at least publicly) far more optimistic. The big question: Will House Speaker Boehner stick with the "Hastert Rule" requiring a majority of Republicans to move a bill to a vote, or will he betray conservatives and allow a free up-or-down vote?

Whether you're an optimist or pessimist depends on whether you think Boehner will crack.

House conservatives are currently flexing their muscles:

Labrador, who with a group of "a few" other House Republicans is working on a new immigration rewrite to propose to leadership, said he thinks Democrats will cave.

"It has to be a Republican bill that the Democrats would accept," said Labrador, who added that Democrats were being unreasonable. "If it doesn’t … we might as well just go home right now if we’re going to do whatever the Democrats want to do."

Democrats, on the other hand, are betting Boehner caves on the Hastert Rule:
But Democrats say they are confident that Boehner will be the one to renege on his pledge, and the minority’s strategy of demanding a pathway to citizenship hinges on whether they are doing the right math, according to senior Democratic aides present during Tuesday’s meeting.

"The operating theory is that we’re not going to make this easy for them," one Democratic aide said about Republicans, "and if they want our votes, they are going to have to give us something for it. … With enough pressure, we can get them to violate the Hastert rule."

There's a third group in the House, mostly the most teabaggy of the teabaggers, who are opposed to any immigration legislation coming out of the House, even if it's a border-only bill, afraid that it'll get replaced by something more resembling the Senate bill in the conference committee. They fear what Democrats expect—that pressure to pass the conference bill will be so intense that Boehner will renege on his Hastert Rule promises and allow an up-or-down vote. At that point, reform advocates would only need about 1/5th of the Republican caucus to join Democrats for final passage.

So what kind of pressure would it take for Boehner to break his Hastert Rule promise? Millions of brown people marching on the street? That'll only embolden the xenophobes, putting extra pressure on Boehner to stand firm. No, the pressure has to come from inside his House, and that'll be the business wing of the GOP, eager for (legal) access to imported labor, and establishment Republicans fearful of electoral irrelevance.

Will that be enough? If Boehner reneges on his Hastert Rule promise, he's finished as speaker. So the question is whether he's comfortable giving up power in exchange for a cushy multi-million dollar K-Street lobbying gig. Right now, Boehner is telling conservatives everything they want to hear. If he holds fast, immigration reform is dead. So it all comes down to whether he's being sincere, or if he's full of shit.

Hmmm. Once I put it that way, I'm suddenly more optimistic.

Originally posted to kos on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 10:24 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site