Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Discovering a Post-Shutdown Path to Comprehensive Immigration Reform

At the beginning of this week, the United States celebrated its having been discovered by Europeans more than 521 years ago. Half way through this week, the Members of the United States Congress discovered a way to end the government shutdown and to raise the nation's debt ceiling, thereby avoiding a potential default on the government's loans. Christopher Colombus had to endure the potential threat of being killed by his own crew of the three ships he led across the Atlantic Ocean before seeing on the horizon the islands of the West Indies. Similarly, the end of the shutdown came about despite opposition by a majority of the controlling political party in the United States House of Representatives because the Speaker of that chamber allowed a pre-negotiated deal to come to a vote. As Colombus proved there is no ocean edge over which his ships would fall, Speaker John Boehner proved that he would not permit the government to fall off the fiscal cliff. Colombus rewarded his patrons with the riches of the New World. Now Boehner must reward his supporters by leading his political party out of the figurative hole in which it finds itself as a result of its receiving the lion's share of the blame for the shutdown.

That way out could be to bring quickly the Senate's passed Comprehensive-Immigration-Reform ("CIR") bill to a vote on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Leading the way in finally passing CIR would provide the Republicans the rehabilitation their brand desperately needs at this time, and Boehner would be wise to take the opportunity immediately rather than allowing it to slip away. By permitting his fellow party members to use the shutdown and debt ceiling as leverage to attempt both to reduce spending and even to defund ObamaCare, Boehner confirmed his conservative credentials and party loyalty despite the strategy's failing. By recognizing before it was too late the reality that that attempt had failed and by bringing the deal brokered in the United States Senate to a vote in the United States House of Representatives, Boehner proved his love for country and consequently drew influence away from the most conservative members of his political party and consolidated it within his office.

Now Boehner can end the popularity-rating free fall his political party is suffering and can therefore be a Republican hero by bringing the Senate's CIR bill to a vote on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Regardless of political affiliation, one can easily see that the Republicans are in dire need of a boost in popularity, and no issue is better suited to provide that boost than CIR. I had written earlier that it appeared that CIR was already dead, but the current political climate is ripe for it to be passed if passed quickly. Moreover, the news from earlier this week that detention of immigrants is apparently quota-based rather than safety-based provides yet another example of how the current immigration system in the United States could be made better.

If he takes advantage of such a climate, Speaker Boehner's biggest problem will not be the tea-party Republicans, from whom most of the country no longer wants to hear for the time being, but rather the White House's attempts to take credit for what he effectively would have made possible:

Nevertheless, such a battle over who should receive credit for CIR, unlike the government-shutdown and debt-ceiling battles, could actually be won by the Republicans but only if Boehner moves quickly to bring CIR to the floor of the United States House of Representatives for a vote.

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