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Immigration could hinge on August recess

Jul 18, 2013

"The White House and its immigration reform allies are banking on the August recess as their next — and possibly last — major opportunity to compel House Republicans to act.With the issue stalled in the House, the monthlong congressional break is the linchpin of a campaign that President Barack Obama, Senate immigration leaders and a broad coalition of groups now expect they’ll have to wage through the end of the year. They realize they must make progress in the next month to stand any chance of keeping the issue alive into the fall.

The Republican Conference meeting last week confirmed that the House leadership feels pressure to do something. Advocates claim that House members who knew little about the Senate bill are learning during one-on-one meetings that it’s not worlds away from what they could accept. And polls show that more voters align with Democrats than Republicans on the issue.But the task is enormous: Immigration proponents need to prove in August that Republicans can’t afford to sentence immigration to a slow death in the fall. Their strategy involves leveraging public pressure, playing legislative hardball and proving to Republicans that the only viable solution is a comprehensive one.

One possibility is that Boehner attempts to pass a handful of piecemeal bills but ends up being stymied by two dozen or more conservatives who refuse to vote for anything that could set up a conference committee. House Democrats could also hold together and oppose any effort to deal with immigration through a step-by-step approach. If unable to produce a bill, Boehner could succumb to rising pressure from business, establishment Republicans, faith leaders and others to ultimately allow a vote on a comprehensive bill — and House members who oppose it wouldn’t revolt because they’ll just want it off their plate. In that scenario, Boehner would most likely feel pressure to bring up a bipartisan House bill, which is slated for release later this year. That bill is expected to hew further to the right than the Senate bill.

Another scenario is that the House passes legislation on border security and the DREAM Act, setting up a conference committee with the Senate. When it gets to conference, Senate reform backers would push to expand the scope of the negotiations and lobby Boehner to waive the so-called Hastert rule for the conference committee report, which requires a majority of the majority to support a bill before it receives a vote." - Politico

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