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Actually, House GOP, You Need the Senate to Pass a Bill

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Yesterday, at a speech in San Antonio, Rep. Paul Ryan talked about the House GOP plans for immigration. During his remarks, Ryan spouted what has become a standard GOP talking point:

Ryan made it clear that if the Republican-led House passes a handful of immigration bills, it won’t enter talks with the Democratic-led Senate on its legislation.

“We’re not going to enter into a process that entertains the idea of taking the Senate bill. So we won’t what we call ‘conference’ with the Senate bill. So we’re going to do it our own way,” he said.

We heard something similar from Speaker Boehner last November when he proclaimed:

The idea that we’re going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House. And frankly, I’ll make clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.

Now, we know the House GOPers haven’t passed much legislation over the past couple years, but, that’s not how the legislative process works. It’s not all or nothing. Anyone who has watched School House Rock’s “How a bill becomes a law” knows that. Ryan and Boehner should, too.

If Republicans are serious about passing immigration reform, they can’t do it themselves.  To pass reform, House GOP leaders need to work with Democrats in the House. Real reform won’t pass in the House without Democratic voters. And, despite the chest puffing, the House needs to work out the language with the Senate. That’s how it works. And, they need to present a bill that the President can sign.

So, this tough talk about not working with the Senate might be rhetoric. But, if we’re going to get reform, the Republicans have to play with others. Otherwise, they’re just doing this as a political exercise and not to achieve an actual result.