Boehner's problem on immigration reform

Published: Monday, July 8 2013 1:30 p.m. MDT

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio leaves after a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


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As Congress returns from its Fourth of July recess, Speaker of the House John Boehner faces tough choices when it comes to the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate on June 27. Opposed by a large number of Republicans, the bill looks unlikely to pass the GOP dominated House — if Boehner even brings the bill to the floor which some are unsure he will do. At the Christian Science Monitor, John Pitney highlights the coming troubles Boehner will have if he brings up the bill.

“Immigration pits the long-term interests of the party against the short-term interests of many of its House members. In the long term, the GOP needs a good share of the burgeoning Hispanic vote in order to survive. If you’re a Republican House member, however, you aren’t worrying much about the future political needs of other members of your party,” says Pitney, in effect summing up the conundrum faced by the GOP as the voting population rapidly diversifies.

And just because the Senate passed the bi-partisan bill with several Republican votes, that really doesn’t correlate to support from the right in the lower chamber. “Although the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform by 68-32, and got some Republican votes, that outcome just serves to illustrate the differences between the chambers. Senators represent entire states and are more likely to have diverse constituencies. Serving six years instead of two, they have longer time horizons.”

Pitney notes that while the Netflix series “House of Cards” shows just how productive a Machiavellian speaker like Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood can be, in the real world Boehner lacks the clout to force his party to do much of anything it doesn’t want to do. “Ironically, sincerity presents problems for congressional leaders. In Underwood’s TV world, it’s easy to buy people because everybody is for sale: even his wife’s environmental group is a scam. In reality, political motivations are a complex mix of self-interest and public interest.”

For Boehner, creating a bill that somehow appeases the Senate and the House is a task that will likely end up deserving its own TV series.

Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and is the DeseretNews.com opinion intern. Reach me at fstevenson@deseretdigital or @freemandesnews

Read more on Christian Science Monitor.

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