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The Democrats' role in hamstringing immigration reform in the US House

@MarcACaputo

You can't blame both sides equally for the death of comprehensive immigration reform this year in Washington, DC. After all, Republicans in the Democrat-led Senate barely backed a bipartisan bill (and Sen. Marco Rubio was raked over the far-right coals for helping usher it). And in the GOP-led House, conservative Republicans have blocked a hearing on the Senate bill or the issue.

But still, Democrats bear some blame.

A must-read article from The Hill lays out what happened behind the scenes. It points out that the White House and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer tried in May to stop a bipartisan House bill from moving because, in their view, it endangered the Senate bill.

Guess who was identified with gumming it up at the time? Rep. Xavier Becerra, who belongs to the same delegation as Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

We noted Becerra's purported sand-in-the-gears role at the time, and refused to comment. Afterward, he denied the reports but refused to elaborate. Update: Becerra's spokesman James Gleeson wanted the following statement added (note: It says I "accuse Becerra of gumming up the works." That's inaccurate. As you see, the post above says Becerra "was identified with gumming it up at the time."):

"For an unbiased reporter to accuse Congressman Becerra of ‘gumming up’ negotiations is an odd way to describe what he did in consulting with the very people on whose behalf he was negotiating and doing so before committing them to a position. As Marc Caputo himself acknowledges there's more nuance to the situation than some would admit to passing comprehensive immigration reform in the House."

Intriguingly, immigration-reform advocates didn't tweet out the above-mentioned blog post or mention it en masse at all. And today, it's the same story with what The Hill wrote.

Hmmmmm.

But when Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (who would probably vote to pass the Senate bill if it came up for a vote) noted that time has expired this year in the House for the issue, he was excoriated by some on the left. One columnist in the hill called him the "Latino face of GOP's immigration reform blockade."

Perhaps today's Hill article might change a few minds about the issue, or at least show that there's more nuance than some advocates would admit. 

At worst, for advocates, the story and the disparate treatment of politicians depending on their party affiliation will reinforce the conservative narrative that this is an issue for which Republicans will receive no credit only blame. Also, Republicans believe that Democrats want immigration reform to die because it hurts the GOP among Hispanics.

There is some (but not a lot) of truth to that latter argument.

Ultimately, Republicans are in charge of the House. And the House has done next to nothing on the issue. In addition, Rubio appears to be backing away from his own immigration-reform bill. That sounds weird even to conservatives like Rich Lowry of the National Review.

And Democrats can't really be blamed for that.

Here's the top of The Hill story:

"Rep. Luis Gutiérrez’s phone was ringing. It was President Obama’s chief of staff.

Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the middle of May that was on the cusp of a breakthrough agreement on immigration reform.

Denis McDonough told Gutiérrez that Obama opposed a key concession that Democratic negotiators had made to House Republicans.

Sen. Charles Schumer later called. The New York Democrat, the architect of more liberal legislation from the Gang of Eight that was advancing in the Senate, delivered an even blunter message.

'Stop the progress on the House bill,' Gutiérrez described Schumer as saying. 'I want you to stop. You are damaging the Senate proposal moving forward.'

"The White House and Senate Democrats did not want a more conservative House plan —designed to pass muster with a Republican majority — to emerge before the Gang of Eight’s proposal had passed on the Senate floor.

"Lacking support from party leaders, Democrats in the House group suffered from internal divisions over how far to bend in their bid to reach a deal that could set up a compromise with the more favorable Senate bill.

"Tempers flared frequently between Gutiérrez, the colorful Chicago lawmaker revered by immigration advocates, and Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), a Los Angeles liberal who had risen up the ranks of the Democratic leadership."

Rest of Hill story here

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