I get that it’s difficult for immigration reformers to see and accept the writing on the wall — that reform is likely dead in this Congress. It’s incredibly important for the country as well as for millions of undocumented immigrants whose lives will be directly affected. The bill is in effect being filibustered in the House inasmuch as the bill would almost certainly pass if only John Boehner would only allow it to come for a vote. But pretending this isn’t the case is actually damaging the prospects of reform.It makes all the tactical and strategic sense in the world to take this out of the confusing arcana of Washington’s intentionally obfuscating procedural maze and put it back into the political realm where it belongs. In other words, stop pretending that the GOP House’s hardening resolve to kill the Senate bill is going to change and take this whole question back to the people looking forward to the 2014 election. There’s a curious elite belief that going into ‘campaign mode’ is somehow dirty or tawdry or that it makes it harder to come up with the compromises necessary for legislation. But that is nonsense.
In a case where two sides are working in good faith to achieve compromise, this may be the case, though it’s dubious even then. But that is clearly not the case here. House Republicans have been working for several months to kill the legislation. The only hold up is where to leave the evidence and who to try to blame. On a broader level though, this is what elections are for. It’s the opaque backroom horse trading that is suspect in democratic terms. When the legislative process can’t resolve a question, especially when it seems clear that it is blocking a popular bill, the solution is another election.
So stop pretending that this bill is going to pass and get about the business of explaining to voters who is stopping it from passing or in fact stopping it from even getting a vote. This tends to be something center-left reformers never get. The bill is dead or near dying. Letting this drag on only demoralizes people who think that government can act in the common good because it makes it seem as though the bill is dying of natural causes or some hopeless terminal illness — something tied to the nature of the Congress or the ‘process’ itself.
But that’s deeply misleading and damaging to the prospects of reform ever succeeding. The bill didn’t die. It was killed. So forget the heroic measures to revive it and get about telling the public who killed it and holding them accountable for their actions.