The fate of the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill is pretty much now in the hands of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who must decide precisely how the House is going to "work its will." Naturally, Boehner has been receiving many a hint from his fellow Republicans. Not all of these hints are particularly delicate. And one in particular pretty much asks Boehner to reflect on certain current events, on the coup d'etat front. Like I said: there is a dearth of subtlety here.
For a few weeks now, the mystery of what the House will do with the Senate's bill has focused on whether or not Boehner might break the Hastert Rule -- which holds that no bill shall come to the floor for a vote without the support of "the majority of the majority." That has touched off much soap opera speculation, and Boehner -- no doubt in an attempt to properly assay the direction of the wind -- has spent these past months sending a lot of mixed signals. (This has led some House Republicans to float the notion of changing the Hastert Rule from a suggestion to procedural holy writ.)
But the days of mixed messages and bluffing may be over. As Brian Beutler reported on Tuesday, the "already narrow path to enacting comprehensive immigration reform pretty much disappeared."
At the Capitol, House Speaker John Boehner stated a specific policy preference Tuesday that will alienate the entire Democratic Party if he adheres to it, and thus doom the reform effort. And elsewhere in the Beltway, influential conservatives have grown more confident and explicit about abandoning the immigration issue, for at least a couple of years.
Taken together, it means that enacting new immigration legislation will either require Democrats to cave on a key demand, or require Boehner to abandon his preference and break his word to his conference that he won’t move ahead without a majority of his members in support.
Nothing left to do, then, besides maybe putting a fine point on what might happen to Boehner if he deviates from his opposition stance. So without further ado, here's that pointed reminder, as delivered by the Atlantic's Molly Ball:
If any Republicans were contemplating stepping out on a limb for immigration reform, feedback like this, combined with a lack of leadership from above, could ensure they don't take a risk. I asked one House Republican chief of staff what to expect from Wednesday's conference meeting and got this answer: "There is going to be unified opposition to the House ever considering the Senate bill. I think if Boehner proposed this path, it would be like Tahrir Square."
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