Dick Durbin lied when he claimed that a Republican House leader told President Obama, “I can’t even stand to look at you.” Indeed, there’s no reason to believe that any Republican House leader even feels that way.
But it’s probably true that many members of the House can’t stand to deal with either Obama or such slimy Senate operators as Harry Reid and the aforementioned Durbin. And this sentiment may doom immigration reform, at least in 2013.
The showdown battle created two plausible scenarios with respect to passing amnesty-style immigration reform legislation. In one scenario, scarred House Republicans, attempting to show that they problem solvers, not just obstructionist naysayers, forge ahead on immigration reform. In the other scenario, scarred Republicans are too angry to go down a road that, to complete, would require working closely with Democrats.
From what I’ve heard, the second scenario now seems more plausible. In fact, Sen. Marco Rubio, who helped push amnesty-style reform through the Senate, is said to doubt that the House will proceed, given the prevailing atmosphere of distrust.
This report in Politico confirms Rubio’s pessimism (and my optimism). It finds that “skepticism of President Barack Obama within the House Republican Conference is at a high, and that’s fueled a desire to stay out of a negotiating process with the Senate.”
There is also a question of timing. The House has just 19 days in session before the end of 2013.
Politico properly cautions against ruling out the possibility of immigration reform this year:
Of course, the dynamics could change. Some, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), are eager to pass something before the end of the year. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has signaled publicly that he would like to move forward in 2013 on an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. If Republicans win some Democratic support on piecemeal bills, they could move forward this year. But still, anything that makes its way to the floor needs to have significant House Republican support
The odds, it seems to me, stack up pretty strongly against reform this year.
As for 2014, the conventional wisdom is, as Politco says, that “getting immigration through this deeply divided Congress an election year would be incredibly difficult.” Both sides may tend to focus on using the issue for their political purposes, rather than trying to reach agreement.
By then, they really may be unable to stand looking at each other.