Dem Depression Deepens About Immigration Reform in the House
The former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is pessimistic that the immigration reform bill passed in the Senate yesterday has a snowball's chance in the House.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) pointed to House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) comments about getting the consensus of his caucus before the bill can come to the floor. Republicans are planning to meet about that on July 10.
"He's not going to take up the bipartisan Senate bill. If he did, we could pass it today. I think we've got at least 200 Democratic votes in the House. I think we'd get at least 18 Republican votes in the House. We could get this important legislation done today," Van Hollen claimed.
"He said he won't do that. But, what's worse is he said anything that came out of a conference committee down the road would only be brought up for a vote in the House if a majority of the Republicans supported it. And right now I don't see how that configuration passes, because a majority of the Republicans in the House are against any sort path towards legalization and eventual citizenship," he added.
Van Hollen also claimed that President Obama "has been very careful not to get involved in the congressional politics on this issue to make sure he doesn't do anything that might disrupt the the process."
Obama issued a lengthy statement yesterday chiding the House to act quickly before lobbying and activist forces get their hands on legislation.
"What was most disturbing about the speaker's comments was that out of the conference committee, very specifically, he said he would not allow the people's House to work its will. He would only allow something to come out of conference committee if it had the support of a majority of Republicans," Van Hollen continued. "That's anti-Democratic, and I'm afraid that could doom the prospects of immigration reform. No one's giving up yet. I still think there's great hope. But that was not a promising statement."
He put the odds of immigration reform passing in the House in "some jeopardy" at "50-50."
"The bad news is, a couple months ago, I thought the momentum was clearly in favor of I would have said 65 percent, 70 percent chance of getting it done. So I still think we're at 50-50. But, unfortunately, the speaker's comments and the House Republicans' statements, you know, are taking us in the wrong direction," Van Hollen said. "This is going to require the country to respond. People throughout the country are going to have to say, now is the time to address this broken immigration system."