Slow news day, huh? 'Gang of Eight' opponents breathe a sigh of relief -- for now, at least. Via Roll Call:
Speaker John A. Boehner reiterated to House Republicans this morning that he will not bring up the Senate’s immigration overhaul for a vote in the House. “Weeks ago, I — along with Eric, Kevin, Cathy and Bob Goodlatte — issued a statement making clear that the House is not going to just take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” Boehner told lawmakers, per a source in the room. "We’ll do our own bill, through regular order and it’ll be a bill that reflects the will of our majority and the people we represent.” ... Democrats have ratcheted up pressure on Boehner to bring up the Senate’s bill even if a majority of his own conference opposes it, if the House is unable to pass legislation of its own. But the speaker last week all but guaranteed a majority of his majority would have to back any immigration bill before it would come to the floor.
Read this piece for a cogent explanation for why, procedurally, the House may not act anytime soon on immigration reform. Meanwhile, the Senate just adopted the Hoeven/Corker substitute amendment -- which is no surprise, given Monday's cloture vote. Today's finally tally was 69-29 in favor of adopting the so-called "border surge" plan. (I'll post the roll call when it's available -- update -- roll call added). The absolute final vote to pass the legislation will probably come
tomorrow on Friday. The Senate's actions are basically academic at this stage; just ask House Republicans, who are going all honey badger on the 'Gang of Eight' bill. Since the House will pursue its own bill, I might as well re-up my advice offered earlier this week. Demand enforcement first, legal status and path to citizenship second -- then bring your case to the people, vis-a-vis the Senate's 'legal status now, enforcement later...maybe' standard. How is public opinion shaping up on this issue? I cited some relevant polling in the post linked above, but there are new numbers out today. Roughly half of Americans now say the issue of immigration will impact their vote next year, which is a significant uptick. National Journal's survey also demonstrates overwhelming opposition to affording probationary legalized immigrants any federal benefits. 'Gang of Eight' supporters say protections against that outcome is already in the bill, but the extent to which those provisions are airtight remains slightly unclear. Which brings us to a point Ted Cruz has been making: If provisional immigrants aren't covered by Obamacare's dictates, wouldn't employers have a major incentive to hire them over American citizens, who carry with them costly mandates? You'll be happy to know that many of the Senators who just voted in favor of the amendment are unable to answer that question:
On Tuesday afternoon, THE WEEKLY STANDARD asked five different U.S. Senators about this problem. These five senators, all Democrats, voted to cut off debate Monday night on the revised immigration bill, but none of them knew if the bill would create a financial incentive for some employers to hire amnestied immigrants instead of American citizens. "We're trying to solve that right now. I don't know if that's been solved," Senator Max Baucus of Montana (chief author of Obamacare) told THE WEEKLY STANDARD. "I don't know. I'd have to look at it closely," said Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. "I just haven't read it that closely to know." Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he thought the Affordable Care Act's fines would apply no matter what. "I'd have to look at the ACA, but I don't think it distinguishes" between citizens and those on a path to citizenship, Blumenthal said. But then he said he wasn't quite sure. "I mean I'd have to look. You're asking a legal question. It's not an opinion question," Blumenthal added. "I don't recall any distinction in the law. But that's a good question. I'd have to check." Senator Tom Carper of Delaware said he was too busy to answer the question. "I don't have the time to drill down on it right now," he told me. And Senator Barbara Boxer of California replied with something of a non sequitur before the Senators-only elevator doors closed in my face. "I think if you work for an employer who offers health care, you will get the health care you want," Boxer said. Spokesmen for Senators McCain and Rubio did not reply to a request for comment.
And no, this isn't a bogus concern:
And, to clear up any uncertainty, The New Republic, Investors' Business Daily, and the Washington Examiner have all reported that the bill certainly does create an incentive for some employers to hire "registered provisional immigrants" instead of U.S. citizens. The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler wrote that the claim is false, but then he updated his article to admit he was wrong.
This presents a bit of a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' dilemma for supporters of the legislation. The NJ polling mentioned earlier shows that Americans are insisting on this course of action -- but what if it costs American jobs in the process? It's a rough catch-22 on the stuff attack ads are made of. Despite their admitted ignorance on this point, these Senators lined up and voted 'aye.'
UPDATE - The Senate just invoked cloture on the immigration bill, 67-31. This paves the way for final passage later in the week.
UPDATE II - Listen to Marco Rubio defend the "border surge" to Ed Morrissey on Hugh Hewitt's show. Much of what he says is compelling, but many skeptics simply don't trust the government to actually achieve what he says will happen. That's why 'legalization first' is a nonstarter for so many people. On the Senate floor this afternoon, Rubio described the immigration reform process as a "real trial" for him, particularly because he's found himself at odds with his normal allies (video added):