For the last few weeks, shutdown and then debt ceiling negotiations have paralyzed Washington, as Republicans have drawn out their unwillingness to compromise and driven talks to the 11th hour. Even as a deal appears to draw near, however, the aftermath of the last few weeks has hardly been consequence-free. Among other things (like driving US credibility to the brink and cratering the reputation of the GOP), the fiscal crisis has sucked time away from other pressing issues, including immigration reform.
As Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast wrote this week:
It’s not just that Obama looks likely to accept the sequester cuts as the basis for future budget negotiations. It’s that while he’s been trying to reopen the government and prevent a debt default, his chances of passing any significant progressive legislation have receded.
A Fox News interview with Rep. Louie “Terror Babies” Gohmert, however, has us wondering whether that was the Republican scheme all along. As Gohmert says, House Republicans knew they were going to be facing immigration as an issue this fall, but they were able to avoid the issue by engaging on Obamacare:
GOHMERT: I know that is one contention, but if Ted doesn’t suspend the filibuster, we already heard what was coming. As soon as we got beyond this summer we were going to have an amnesty bill come to the floor. That is what we would have been talking about and that is where the pivot would have been if we had not focused America on Obamacare.
Two birds, one stone? Gohmert was one of the key players in the Tea Party wing of the GOP that forced the government shutdown over funding Obamacare. He’s also one of the most viciously anti-immigrant members of Congress. It may have been the Tea Partiers’ dislike of Obamacare that’s brought us to this moment, but it surely did not escape Republicans that their fiscal charades allowed them to evade action on immigration reform.
Not that it will matter. There exist enough votes in the House to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship right now. It’s always just been a matter of Speaker Boehner allowing the House to vote. Immigration reform is a movement that is not going away. House Republicans may have evaded their responsibility to take action for now, but the pressure to pass reform will continue until, sooner or later, Republicans see the light.