For House GOP, One Doomed Immigration Bill Down, One to Go

41 House Republicans voted against the hard-core immigration bill sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte, which was meaner than Trump’s proposal. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Hard-core conservatives had multiple temper tantrums aimed at bringing it to a vote. They even helped kill the Farm Bill to demonstrate how serious they were about it. And finally, today, the 100 percent amnesty-free Goodlatte immigration bill made it to the House floor — and was promptly defeated by a 193-231 vote.

It was no surprise that every single House Democrat voted against the measure, since it was part of a House GOP gambit to make immigration policy with no input from the minority party whatsoever. But 41 Republicans voted against the measure, which was similar to the president’s January proposal except for its more churlish treatment of Dreamers (Trump provided a path to citizenship for Dreamers, Goodlatte just offered a visa). Here’s the Hill’s brief description:

Goodlatte’s bill would have provided funding for a wall along the southern border, ended the diversity visa lottery program, limited family-based visas, created an agriculture guest worker program require employers to use the E-Verify program — a pivotal provision in garnering conservative support — and allowed for the administration to cut funding toward sanctuary cities. 

As a marker for what the nativists who think Trump has gone squishy on “amnesty” want, the Goodlatte bill will live on. But otherwise, we can forget about it. Now the focus shifts to the so-called “compromise” bill the House GOP leadership put together with some input from the ever-helpful Stephen Miller (though not without a big hiccup when Miller’s boss got confused and publicly condemned his handiwork last week). Its provisions keep changing with negotiations, but it’s basically a less draconian version of Goodlatte’s with a new visa for Dreamers that could be interpreted as offering a path to citizenship. It, too, probably won’t get any Democratic votes, and at this point there’s enough disgruntlement among both conservative and “moderate” Republicans to sink it as well. So this second vote was postponed until Friday, as Politico explains:

GOP leaders … are under no impression that they’ll be able to secure the 218 votes needed in the next 24 hours to pass the measure, and they only agreed to the postponement under pressure from conservative members who are opposed to the legislation in the first place.

The effort got one more kick in the slats this morning from the president:

The delay comes just a few hours after President Donald Trump publicly undercut House Republicans, asking why they were even bothering to vote on immigration legislation in the first place when it can’t get through the Senate. Trump’s message didn’t do anything but make the situation more difficult for Ryan and his top lieutenants.

Now for once, Trump is being quite honest. Both these bills have been doomed all along by the total certainty that they will go nowhere in the Senate, where 60 votes would be necessary to advance them. Indeed, the only real purpose of this exercise was to preempt a discharge petition that House Democrats and some politically vulnerable House Republicans had signed that might have brought a Democratic immigration bill — indeed, the original DREAM Act — to the floor under conditions where it might have actually passed. So for all the endless and interminable and redundant House GOP talk about wanting to take action on immigration, when votes were finally held it was really about preventing action on immigration.

So let’s be clear: The “compromise” bill that will be voted on tomorrow is only a gesture toward a probably impossible consensus among Republicans, as Nancy Pelosi pointed out to the media today:

They talk, and sometimes you all repeat it, that it’s a compromise. But it is not a compromise. It may be a compromise with the devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats.

And more importantly, in the unlikely event it passes, that will be it for the year in terms of any broad-based immigration legislation. Because that’s been the plan all along. It’s probably lucky for Republicans that the bizarre fakery of the president’s family-separation policies on the border is getting most of the public attention.

For House GOP, One Doomed Immigration Bill Down, One to Go