Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gave the clearest indication that proponents of comprehensive immigration reform may make their final–and strongest–push to get legislation passed next year after House Republicans make it through their primaries.
“I think conventional wisdom is that time is not on our side,” McCain told reporters on Monday after an event in Chicago. “But there are a number of members of Congress who have primaries and when those primaries are done, they may be more inclined to address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.”
President Barack Obama has urged Congress to pass immigration reform legislation this year. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is reportedly going to bring legislation to the floor within the next month and other House Republican leaders have indicated support for piecemeal pieces of legislation that can make it to conference with the Senate, where proponents and opponents of immigration reform had said a pathway to citizenship will prevail.
Though the Congressional Budget Office has determined the Senate’s immigration bill would lower the wages of working class Americans, House Republicans are reportedly working on piecemeal pieces of legislation to eventually get to conference with the Senate. McCain also said on Monday that the House should just “pass something” to get to conference with the Senate. House Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) are reportedly working on legislation that would grant a pathway to citizenship to all of the country’s illegal immigrants.
McCain’s comments indicate even if the current push to enact comprehensive immigration reform fails, the real fight may be in the spring and summer of next year, when Obama could use immigration as a midterm election issue and Republican lawmakers will not be worried about primaries in the 2014 election cycle.
In 2010, McCain made a right turn on immigration, infamously promising to “complete the danged fence” as he was fighting for his political life to win re-election in Arizona. Shortly after he got elected to serve another term, McCain quickly lurched back to the left, becoming a champion for comprehensive immigration reform and calling Tea Partiers whose support he needed in 2010 “hobbits” and “wacko birds.”