Next month will mark the one-year anniversary of the Senate passing of S. 744, its bipartisan immigration reform bill. Since House Republicans have spent that whole time doing precisely nothing on real immigration reform — while making time for votes that Steve King wants — the GOP can expect to be repeatedly hammered for this failure in the coming days and weeks.
Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer did just that this morning, in Senate floor speeches that excoriated Speaker Boehner and the House GOP for not taking action on immigration reform even though it’s been 321 days since the Senate passed its bill. Both tied the House GOP’s failures to their willingness to let Steve King “call the shots,” as Schumer put it in a similar speech this month. Harry Reid argued that the GOP’s true immigration preferences involve more deportations, an idea Greg Sargent has argued repeatedly. As Reid said today:
Recently, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman appeared on a Sunday news show and tried unsuccessfully to justify his party’s inaction. His reasoning as to why the House is dragging its heels? Republicans claim that President Obama can’t be trusted to enforce immigration law, so they will do nothing. So what Republicans are really saying is that they won’t act on immigration reform unless there are more deportations, more families torn apart. And that, in a nutshell, is the immigration platform extremists in the Republican party prefer: the more deportations, the better. I guess that’s what we’ve learned to expect from a House Republican conference whose immigration policy is dictated by the likes of Representative Steve King.
Sen. Schumer, in his speech, emphasized the fact that time is running out for Republicans to act on immigration reform. If Republicans don’t act soon, Obama will, and then that will be it for Republicans electorally:
It is time for the House Republican leadership to decide whether they stand with the majority of the American people — and a majority of their conference — or if they’re really going to let Steve King continue to dictate the policy of the Republican Party on immigration. Just to be clear, right now Steve King is winning…
Today I want to be clear what the window is for the House to pass immigration reform. It is the window between early June and the August recess. [Otherwise] it will not pass until 2017 at the earliest. I believe Republicans would then pass it in 2017 after Republicans take a presidential and Congressional shellacking. But in the meantime, if immigration reform is not passed during this window, Republicans will have to admit that Steve King controls the Republican Party platform on immigration. If nothing happens during this window, it will be clear that Steve King calls the shots, and he has won the immigration debate among the House Republicans. Whatever your supposed excuse for inaction, inaction is consent to Steve King’s point of view.
Where are the leaders in the House of the Republican Party, with the courage to stand up to Steve King, and say ‘enough is enough, we will not let our party be hijacked by extremists whose xenophobia causes them to prefer maintaining a broken system over achieving a tough, practical, and fair long-term solution?’
Make no mistake: immigration reform will pass, either this year with bipartisan support and a bipartisan imprint, or it will pass in a future year with only Democratic support and a Democratic imprint — because Democrats will control the White House and Congress simply because Republicans have failed to pass immigration reform. In the meantime, the President would be more than justified in acting anytime after recess begins to take whatever changes he feels necessary to make our immigration system work better for those unfairly burdened by our broken laws.