Politico reports that after the Senate passed its immigration bill late last month, President Obama asked House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, during separate telephone calls, what he could do to help the House pass a bill. The easy answer is: stay out of the process and enforce, rather than nullify, statutory provisions that are on the books.
Theoretically, Obama might be able to facilitate passage of immigration reform by Congress by leaning on Senate Democrats to abandon their “legalization first” position. But Obama won’t do so — presumably, he participated in formulating that position — and Senate Dems would probably ignore him if he did.
In my view, the Democrats’ (and Obama’s) first choice is passing “legalization first” legislation and their second choice is trying to beat Republicans up for preventing the passage of such legislation. If so, this thinking leaves no room for passing alternative legislation.
But while there isn’t much Obama can do to help the House pass amnesty-style legislation, the same may not be true for Paul Ryan. And according to Politico, he’s willing to pitch in:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — whom some lawmakers see as the next speaker of the House — is meeting with House and Senate Republicans to try to find common ground on immigration policy. The meetings, which generally do not include GOP leadership, have been partially focused on identifying the narrow area where Senate Republicans who voted against the bill could find agreement with House Republicans. This could help guide the process in the House.
Ryan has also been canvassing House Republicans, trying to determine where they stand.
There is, I believe, an area of agreement between Senate Republicans who voted against Schumer-Rubio and House Republicans: secure the border and then think about what, if anything, to do for those who violated our immigration laws.
That’s the Republican consensus. Unfortunately, I doubt it’s what Ryan has in mind.