John Boehner rang a bell of doom for immigration reform today, but you needed a certain kind of hearing to notice it. Here’s what he said:
For any legislation — including the conference report — to pass the House it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members.
What did he mean? He was warning against a nightmare scenario that had started to dawn on Republicans. The scenario went like this:
1. The Senate passes an immigration reform bill with “amnesty” (let’s just go with it) and other things Republicans hate.
2. The House grudgingly listens to the fat pollsters and cufflinked lobbyists and passes a slimmed-down immigration bill, with mostly Republican votes. No amnesty to be found in there.
3. The bill goes to the conference committee, and that committee hammers out a deal closer to what the Senate passed.
4. The House gets the conference bill, and a rump of Republicans join with every Democrat to pass it. Amnesty sneaks over the fence.
Conservatives had told Boehner not to fall for this. “John Boehner should kill the Senate bill,” wrote Bill Kristol yesterday, “first refusing to take it up in the House, and also by making clear the House will refuse to go to conference with it.” Last night, as he interviewed Sen. John Hoeven, Hugh Hewitt explained that conservatives “don’t want this to go to a conference. We do not trust a conference. We do not believe that if this is the best that the Republicans could to on security, on the border fence and other issues, we don’t want the House to pick this up.”
Boehner got the message.