Senate passes immigration reform: What’s next?

Immigration reform bill is a bitter pill for most House Republicans. Photo: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) with Tea Party stalwarts against immigration reform AP photo

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2013 — It took some heavy lifting, but after weeks of negotiating, fighting back the likes of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), arm-twisting, and lots of horse-trading, the Senate passed landmark legislation, immigration reform by 68-32.

Every Democrat voted for the bill as did 14 Republicans, including Gang of Eight member and 2016 presidential hopeful, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The other likely GOP presidential candidates Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul voted no, as did the entire Republican Senate leadership. That spoke volumes right there.

SEE RELATED: KACER: Comprehensive immigration reform must be a bite at a time

Now the bill moves to the House where it is unlikely to pass given the current mood of Congress. Most House Republicans are strongly opposed to granting legal status to the millions of illegal immigrants, whether they overstayed visas or sneaked across the borders. While the Gang of Eight, and in particular the four Republican members, Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), seem to think a strong showing in the Senate in support of immigration reform will make a difference to House members. Don’t hold your breath.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) AP Photo

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) already has said that any immigration legislation, much less a conference report with the Senate, must first win the support of a majority of the majority, following the so-called Hastert rule.

Translation: “…it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of a majority of our members,” before he would bring it for a floor vote, even if it would pass with bi-partisan support, Speaker Boehner explained at a press conference.

SEE RELATED: The immigration reform headache

He stressed that the House would not just take up and vote on the Senate bill, no matter how robust the support by Republican senators.

There is actually a strong anti-immigration reform sentiment in the Republican-controlled House with many of them alarmed that nearly seven million undocumented immigrants would be allowed to live here legally and on the path to citizenship. They reflect the thinking of Sen. Sessions who claims that we cannot afford to have illegal immigrants come out of the shadows and join society, insisting that they will drive down wages and sink the GDP for more than 25 years.

Meanwhile, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the reform bill would reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next ten years and by $700 billion by 2033.

The revised bill that did reach the Senate vote now includes costly provisions insisted upon by Republicans to secure the border with Mexico even more tightly, but that is unlikely to move House Republicans even as they continue to rant about tightening the borders, saying it is not enough. Yet the the new bill does just that, authorizing 20,000 more border patrol officers and the construction of 700 miles of fence along the southern border.

So then, what do the House Republicans want? Sometimes it is hard to know since they keep moving the goal post.

They wanted to keep undocumented immigrants from getting Social Security benefits for the time worked in the U.S. and they got that in the Senate bill. So now House Republicans worry about Social Security fraud.

They demanded tighter border security and they got it, but now they want more security.

Speaker Boehner said disapprovingly of the Senate: “Apparently some haven’t gotten the message: The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill — through regular order —and move the legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people.”

If that were really the case, based on national polls of the American people, the House would pass immigration reform, go to conference with the Senate and send a bill to the President to sign.

So let’s get real here: There is a significant number of Republicans with Tea Party leanings who do not want illegal immigrants here in America, no way, no how. Right now these folks control Speaker Boehner and the House. And by default they control the fate of seven million undocumented immigrants.

So what’s next? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The House will not pass immigration reform. Not if they can help it.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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