Beware the House
Things are moving quickly in the U.S. Senate on immigration reform. Some key Republicans were able to put together a border security plan that will draw enough of their own to get the final vote tally up near 70, which would be an impressive bipartisan achievement in Washington these days.
It’s clear that a number of Senate Republicans have decided now is the time to act on immigration reform. They obviously paid close attention to last year’s election returns, noting the devastating numbers for Republican candidate Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters, 71 percent of whom went for the President Barack Obama. So, Republicans now get it, right? Well, not so fast.
Even assuming some kind of immigration reform bill gets through the Senate, an even tougher test awaits—the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The idea has been that a big bipartisan vote in the Senate for immigration reform would somehow pressure enough House Republicans to go along and support at least a watered-down version of immigration reform. Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate last year, told CBS that the strengthened border security provisions in the Senate bill make it more likely that the House will eventually agree to something.
But the signs emerging from the Republican caucus in the House are not encouraging. Some top Republicans are talking about putting together a bill in piecemeal fashion. That would likely conflict with the Senate approach and could result in no bill at all. The recent demise of the farm bill in the House is a cautionary tale for those who might doubt the power of the conservative caucus in the House.
The House Republicans have little reason to give President Obama a victory on immigration and many of them feel safe in their districts. The only thing they fear is a primary challenge from the right and that could become more likely if they support an immigration bill perceived to be too soft.
Rubio in the Crosshairs
Speaking of immigration reform, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is drawing fire from conservative groups for supporting the bipartisan bill in the Senate. Rubio’s name came up at a recent news conference up at the Capitol held by immigration opponents, and when it did there were boos in the crowd.
Remember this is the same Marco Rubio elected to the Senate from Florida in 2010 with strong support from the Tea Party movement, and now it appears some of them are ready to disown him.
If the immigration bill does pass the Senate and eventually makes its way into law, Rubio will no doubt get kudos from the center and perhaps even the left of the political spectrum. But he risks a backlash on the right and they aren’t likely to forget in 2016 if Rubio make a bid for the White House. Already, some conservative activists in Iowa have taken note of Rubio’s lead role in the immigration debate. Iowa, of course, plays a crucial role as the first test for Republican presidential aspirants with its caucus voting, a process that traditionally kicks off the U.S. presidential campaign selection process.
Waiting for Hillary
Looks like some folks are trying to get a jump on the Democratic side for 2016 by urging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president. One group is called “Ready for Hillary” and is trying to create enough buzz to get Democrats excited about another Clinton run for the White House, as well as jump start the fundraising machine.
Clinton has been quiet about her 2016 intentions and seems to enjoy the guessing game about will she or won’t she run three years from now. Somewhat similar buzz back in 2006 and 2007 made her the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2008 and we all remember how that worked out.
But this time Clinton would seem to benefit from an expected surge in intensity among women Democrats who were sorry to see her lose to Barack Obama in 2008, and who are more determined than ever to put the first woman president in the White House.
The Clintons can be very good at this kind of waiting game and stringing people along. But there’s also the risk the public will get tired of waiting and demand she make a decision sooner than she’d like to. As for tapping big Democratic fundraisers, they might have to wait a bit longer. Those folks are all tapped out from 2012 and want a breather before the next electoral war in 2016.