Will Team Amnesty prevail?

While attention is focused on various Obama administration scandals, the Schumer-Rubio immigration reform legislation keeps chugging along in the Senate. What are the prospects for enacting this law, or some similar version?

I believe the Senate is likely to pass Schumer-Rubio. All or nearly all of the Senate Democrats will vote for it. That’s 55 votes or close to it.

The four Republican members of the Gang of Eight – Rubio, McCain, Graham, and Flake – can be expected to vote for their handiwork. That’s 59 votes or close to it.

Thus, only a small handful of other Republican votes will be required to invoke cloture. With big business backing amnesty so lustily, it’s likely that those votes can be found.

The Gang has said it is hoping for 70 yes votes, or thereabouts, so as to generate “momentum”” in the House. I doubt that Schumer-Rubio will get 70 votes. Mickey Kaus suggests that without 70, it will be difficult to get 60 because no Republican will want to be identifiable as having cast the vote that pushes amnesty over the top.

Kaus may be right. But a small number of Republican “yes” votes is not a tall order from a group as squishy as Senate Republicans.

As for the House, several sources have told me that the leadership is unlikely to bring up the massive Senate bill as such. Instead, pieces of it will be presented for vote, beginning presumably with provisions such as those calling for better enforcement.

This approach will present a dilemma for House Democrats. Like their Senate counterparts, they oppose enhanced enforcement unaccompanied by amnesty, a path to citizenship, and other goodies. But they will not want to vote against enforcement for fear of the political consequences.

I imagine that the Democrats will vote for stand-alone provisions such as those pertaining to enforcement. If amnesty/path for citizenship passes the House later on, then the Dems will be in business. If not, Senate Democrats will make sure that the stand-alone enforcement provisions aren’t enacted.

In any scenario, though, House Republicans should be able to pass a series of relatively non-controversial immigration reform provisions.

But what will happen with amnesty/path to citizenship?

The first question is whether the leadership will permit a vote on this. As I understand it, the leadership ordinarily will not permit a vote on any provision that doesn’t enjoy majority support within the Republican caucus. Amnesty/path to citizenship will fail this test, I’m confident.

But the leadership might bring it up anyway. We shouldn’t underestimate the influence that can be exerted on House leadership by the important portions of the Republican establishment – most notably business interests – that favor amnesty/path to citizenship.

If amnesty/path to citizenship comes up for a vote in the House, I would expect virtually unanimous Democratic support. That’s 201 votes or close to it. Thus, with 20 or slightly fewer Republican votes, the House could pass amnesty/path to citizenship.

Could those votes be found? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

The key, I think, is the extent to which conservatives raise their voices against amnesty/path to citizenship. We can’t count on the Republican establishment; we can’t count on Fox News; and we certainly can’t count on the business community. Moreover, the financial mismatch between pro-amnesty and anti-amnesty Republicans is shocking.

I believe that only a massive outpouring of conservative opposition, such as we witnessed in 2007, will stop the amnesty express this time. Without such an outpouring, I think it’s more likely than not that the House leadership will permit a vote on amnesty/path to citizenship, and more likely than not that such a measure will pass the House.

I understand the fixation on Obama administration scandals. But I also understand that 20 years from now, nearly everyone will have forgotten them. By contrast, 20 years from now Schumer-Rubio, if enacted, will be having a massive impact on America.

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