House Democrats Seek Discharge Petition on Immigration Reform Bill
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will introduce a discharge petition today to try and force a floor vote on HR 15, the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that resembles the Senate immigration bill passed last summer. If a majority of members of the House sign the petition, then the bill would come up for a vote on the House floor. Many believe that the bill would garner majority support if it came up for a vote there.
But 20 to 25 Republicans would need to sign the discharge petition for it to work and most believe that even Republicans who support immigration reform efforts won't sign the petition. The reason - a discharge petition would be seen as a betrayal of Speaker Boehner.
So why bother? For one, it serves as a reminder to the public and, in particular, to the country's Latino community, that there is a solution to the country's immigration mess on the table and Republicans are doing nothing on the issue. The Republicans have been repeating since the Senate passed its bill that it would do things the House way and pass piecemeal immigration bills. But there is little evidence anything is happening on the House side. No bills are being introduced and none of the ones that were passed by the Judiciary Committee last year are coming up for floor votes in the House anytime soon (except an extremely anti-immigrant measure to kill the ICE public advocate measure). Republicans are banking on the fact that they have time on the immigration issue and spending 100% of their time for the rest of the year bashing Obamacare is a smart strategy.
Perhaps. But even if this short term goal helps in the 2014 midterm elections, they are probably dooming the chances of any of their candidates in 2016 as the Latino vote will be one to two million votes stronger and 1 to 2% greater as a portion of the electorate. The longer the Republicans take and the more reluctant they appear to deal with immigration reform, the worse the party's image will be with Latino voters. If Hilary Clinton or whoever is the Democratic nominee simply matches President Obama's 2012 percentage of Latino voters, assuming the rest of the electorate votes in a similar way, she will easily win the election.
Many still believe Speaker Boehner will bring up immigration reform in the next one to two months now that the GOP primary season is largely over. That would be wise. As I pointed out in my post yesterday, there's no evidence that base GOP voters would stay home in November if he did this and he could begin to repair the damage to the GOP brand. But even if he brings up immigration reform, if the emphasis is all on enforcement and it appears that a legalization program is half-hearted and the GOP tries to reduce family immigration numbers, the party will see little benefit. Voting for immigration reform holding your nose is not the way to win back the hearts of pro-immigrant voters.