Between the debt ceiling, budget negotiations, days left in the calendar, and Syria, inside-the-beltway commentators and pundits in recent days have questioned when Congress will have time this year to address immigration reform and whether a ticking clock has become the greatest impediment to passing legislation.
As we and others have noted, however, time is merely the latest handy excuse for GOP inaction on immigration. If House Republicans and their leadership want to pass immigration reform, it will be fairly easy to. All that matters is the will.
As Frank Sharry, our Executive Director here at America’s Voice recently said in an interview, “All of these process excuses and procedural obstacles have been put in place to give Republicans an out. They don’t have an out. They either pass it or they get blamed for blocking it.”
In a Congressional Quarterly piece yesterday, an unnamed House Democratic aide agreed that House Democrats—and the majority of Americans who want to see immigration reform—are still waiting for action from Republicans.
“Until we’re told by the Republicans…that they’re unwilling to take up common-sense immigration reform legislation this fall as they planned—and promised to the American people—House Democrats are expecting for members to have a full debate and votes before the end of the year,” the aide said.
Jonathan Bernstein at the Washington Post recently wrote that the responsibility for passing real immigration reform this year still lies squarely with Republicans, and they’re not going to be able to foist that off on timing or anything else:
What this is really about is looking for excuses, even far-fetched ones, for why they’re not doing comprehensive immigration reform without actually admitting that they’re against comprehensive immigration reform.
It’s not going to wash. Republicans don’t have to actually vote in favor of a bill, but if they refuse to allow it to be considered (and, therefore, to pass over their objections with a coalition of mostly Democratic votes), then the groups who want a bill are going to blame Republicans, and John Boehner, for it.
It remains very simple. If most mainstream conservative Republicans in the House want comprehensive immigration reform to pass, it will pass. If they don’t, it won’t. It really is that simple
And we’re still partial to this quote from Jed Lewison at the Daily Kos, which points out how ridiculous it is for Congress to try and use lack of time as an excuse—because it’s not like they’re currently busy doing anything anyway:
Saying that the calendar is the problem is the same thing as saying that the House has been too busy and will be too busy to deal with immigration reform. This House, too busy? Seriously, can you think of a dumber claim to make than that the laziest, most do-nothing House of Representatives ever was doing too much other stuff to deal with immigration reform?
Pass immigration reform, or be blamed forever for killing it. As Frank said, “This is less about whether there’s time. It’s more about whether there’s a will.”