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Remember: There Is No Immigration Cliff

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Democrats like to point to the fact that Boehner cracked and broke the Hastert rule to pass [deep breath] the fiscal cliff bill, a payroll tax cut extension, Sandy aid, VAWA reauthorization, and an extension of student loan interest rates. And indeed he did.

But what distinguishes immigration reform from those issues is that the House can let this Senate bill gather dust for months and months and literally nothing will change. Advocacy groups will use their inaction to energize voters, and that's something Republicans need to think about. But the consequences of killing the Senate immigration bill are that the status quo prevails.

By contrast, not putting Sandy aid on the floor would have consigned hundreds of thousands of hurricane victims to unusual suffering. Not putting the fiscal cliff bill on the floor would have increased everyone's taxes and possibly caused a recession. The House did sit on its hands when VAWA authority expired, it was terrible politics, and they caved after the election. The student loan and payroll tax issues speak for themselves.

As tired as everyone is of crisis governing, there's a reason deadlines were so crucial to legislative action last Congress, and the dynamic didn't change much after the election. Unfortunately for everyone involved, there's no deadline now.

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com