Earlier this year, negotiators in the House were on the cusp of a deal on immigration reform. It had a pathway to legalization Democrats wanted and strict enforcement triggers Republicans wanted. Democrat Rep. Luis Guitierrez, a long-time advocate for amnesty, says he then got a phone call from the White House opposing the proposed deal. Soon after, Sen. Chuck Schumer called to put the brakes on the House deal.
“Stop the progress on the House bill,” Gutiérrez described Schumer as saying, The Hill reported. “I want you to stop. You are damaging the Senate proposal moving forward.”
The White Hose and Schumer worried that if the House passed a more conservative reform bill first, it would be difficult to pass their comprehensive amnesty bill out of the Senate. A more conservative alternative would have made it difficult for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to continue pushing the amnesty legislation. This belief, however, ignored political realities in the House.
“It is clear to me that there was no strategy on the White House’s part post-Senate victory. Because the Senate victory was the strategy,” Gutiérrez told The Hill.
The Hill also reported that multiple Democrats told it that “the White House never took seriously their warnings that the House GOP would not accept the Senate bill and that the lower chamber needed its own bill to set up a conference committee.”
Had the White House and Schumer not intervened, House and Senate negotiators would likely be meeting in a conference committee now. If the House had passed a bill first, it would have made an eventual deal much more likely.
As with other issues this year, President Obama and Senate Democrats aren’t really interested in the normal give-and-take that constitutes negotiations. Their idea of compromise, it seems, is that the Republicans eventually accept Democrats’ demands.
Its a stance that seems to have scuttled any chance for immigration reform this Congress.