Immigration reform in 2015? Speaker John Boehner says it could happen.
So after more than two years of hanging on the Boehner's every utterance on immigration, reform advocates and their Democratic allies have had enough of the Speaker Who Cried Wolf.
John Boehner is to Lucy as immigration reform is to a football. Let's not go all Charlie Brown again. http://t.co/SSIR4BUAtt— Harry Stein (@HarrySteinDC) September 3, 2014
Boehner's comments this time came in an interview Tuesday on the Hugh Hewitt Show. While he again blamed President Obama for sowing too much distrust among House Republicans for the party to act on immigration legislation, he said he told the president in July that there was "a possibility" to revive the issue in 2015.
I’ve outlined to the president in July that the House, the Congress, ought to be dealing with immigration reform. It wasn’t likely to happen this year because of the flood on the border, and the president’s own pounding his chest about using his phone and his pen. But I did outline that you know, there’s a possibility that Congress could take this issue up next year. But if that were going to happen, there are things that he should do, and things he should not do as we lead up to this. And I think adhering to the law is a minimum requirement from the president. And he ought to be takin actions to better secure our borders. And so I would hope that the president would continue to follow the law, and begin to take steps that would better secure our border. It would create an environment where you could do immigration reform in a responsible way next year."
Democrats view the speaker's line citing a lack of trust in Obama to enforce the law as an excuse for Boehner's unwillingness to risk a revolt by putting up a bill that would pass with a combination of mostly Democratic and some Republican votes. And Boehner himself has undermined his talking point by mocking conservatives who begged him not to touch the hot-button issue.
Yet his suggestion that immigration reform would be viable in 2015, after all that has now transpired, flies in the face of reality in a number of ways.
For one, Obama is likely to announce, either in September or after the November elections, that he is acting by executive order to give some sort of legal status to potentially millions of undocumented immigrants. Boehner has obviously warned the president against this move, but even the staunchest Republican supporters of immigration reform believe this would torpedo any chance of Congress passing its own overhaul in the short term.
Secondly, Republicans are likely to gain seats in Senate and may very well win control of the chamber. The likely GOP majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), voted against the immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013 and told Politico last month that the issue suffered "an immense setback" when migrant children from Central America flooded the border earlier this summer.
Finally, while establishment Republicans still believe the party needs to address immigration to have a chance at winning Latino voters in presidential elections, the start of the 2016 primary jousting early next year is likely to push the party further to the right, making a big reform push in the House all the more difficult.
So while Boehner may not be ready to bury immigration reform for the next two years, he's going to have a heck of a time resuscitating it in 2015.