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House Could Pass Immigration Reform Now, Failure to Do So Could Spell Disaster For GOP in 2016

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Much like the debt ceiling vote of two days ago, if House Republican leadership were to bring up immigration reform for a vote it would pass with mostly Democratic and some Republican votes.  But are the political consequences of inaction clear enough to the Republican Party to compel Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to once again blow past the so-called “Hastert Rule” to pass reform?

As a number of analysts point out below, it should be.  If the GOP blocks immigration reform this year, it’s likely that the 2016 election cycle will look like the 2012 cycle, only worse: the GOP nomination race will push the party to the right, in the general election Republicans will be portrayed as the anti-Latino, anti-Asian-American and anti-immigrant party, President Obama will step in to take bold executive action to protect immigrants (an expansion of the executive action for DREAMers to millions of others) and the result will be an electoral disaster.

House Debt-Ceiling Vote Shows “Governing Majority” Exists to Pass Immigration Reform…if Given a Chance to Vote: 

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne writes, “This vote, like many before it, proved that there is a moderate governing majority in the House…This proposition deserves a test on immigration reform. Supporters should be thinking about a discharge petition to force Boehner’s hand — or maybe even to allow him to do what he’s said privately he’d like to do.”

Carl Hulse of the New York Times writes of the “perverse incentives” of the House Republican majority that compel inaction on key legislative priorities: “Having again shown a willingness to violate the so-called Hastert rule — the unwritten code that legislation should pass the House only with a majority of the majority — will he [Speaker Boehner] now be willing to take a similar approach on other major issues, namely immigration?  After all, he and scores of other House Republicans are interested in overhauling the nation’s immigration policy, and Mr. Boehner could easily shape a significant bipartisan majority if he teamed up Republicans who are willing to act on immigration with Democrats who are clamoring to do so.”

2016 Presidential Race Already is Potential “Looming Crisis” that Should Compel House Vote on Immigration:

Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: While Carl Hulse notes that “Republicans see no deadline or looming crisis that will force” them to vote on immigration, Chait argues that the 2016 presidential contest already represents a real “looming crisis.”  In a new analysis entitled, “How House Republicans Screwed Their Next Presidential Nominee,” Chait marshals demographic data and analysis of the electoral college, refutes the right-wing argument that Republican can ignore Latino and Asian-American voters, and makes the case that House Republicans need to act this year to pass immigration reform if the Party will have a realistic chance of re-taking the White House.  Writes Chait, “in an electorate that is both increasingly hardened in its partisan inclinations, and growing steadily more Democratic-leaning in its basic shape, the GOP’s outlook is, if not hopeless, decidedly grim.  Getting right with immigrant communities may not be sufficient for Republicans, but it’s surely necessary.  In place of a step in the right direction, they’re taking no step at all.”

La Opinión, the nation’s largest Spanish language newspaper, makes a similar point, noting that, “not raising the debt ceiling would have quickly resulted in negative repercussions, both for the country and Republicans.  Not approving immigration reform, sooner rather than later, will have the same effect.”

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post cites the Hulse piece to say of Republicans and immigration reform, “the notion that they have the luxury of waiting is an illusion.  It will only get harder next year, and the price of inaction will only grow.  The question is whether GOP leaders will decide that paying that price is worse than overcoming the ‘perverse incentives’ Hulse spells out.”