Politics

Should I Root for Dems to Keep the Senate?

Mickey Kaus Columnist

Amnesty-skeptics can’t depend on a GOP Senate:

“Polls suggest Republicans have a strong chance of taking control of the Senate next year. And in turn, Democratic pollsters and political analysts have told RCP they believe comprehensive immigration reform legislation will not have a serious chance until 2017, after the presidential election and a new Congress is in place.”— Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

Why does almost everyone assume that “comprehensive immigration reform legislation” is pretty much dead if Republicans win the Senate in 2014? Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration  Studies doesn’t assume that, and he knows as much about the situation as anyone. Here’s a recent tweet:

Boehner: Obama Could Get Immigration Reform ‘Next Year’ http://bit.ly/1w4fIJg  Especially if GOP wins Senate majority

I’d be interested in seeing Krikorian’s thinking fleshed out, but I assume it’s this: Right now, immigration reform is stalled. Many House GOPs, even if they want some sort of immigrant-legalization bill, don’t trust their leadership in any negotiation with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Nor are they happy to let Senate Dems get the bigger share of whatever points passage of an amnesty law would win with Latino voters. But if the Senate goes GOP, this deadlocked array changes. The Senate would fall into the hands of establishment Republicans who are the type most susceptible to the Hispanicking consultants’ argument that they’d better do something to get right with that ethnic voting block before 2016 vote, not to mention to the business lobbyists’ contributions that give that argument much of its persuasive power. House GOPs may feel more comfortable negotiating with a Mitch McConnell-picked group of conferees than a Reid-picked group. And McConnell’s Senate could pass a bill that’s more reasonable than the current Senate’s Gang of 8 bills to start with.

The counterargument, I suppose, is that in practice it would be impossible for McConnell to become Senate leader without victories by Scott Brown, Tom Cotton, and other GOP candidates who’ve made opposing amnesty an issue — victories that would be hard to interpret as anything other than a voter repudiation of “comprehensive” reform that should “thunder through the halls of Congress.” The House, even more than the Senate, would feel this heat (because the House, by design, typically feels heat more than the Senate).

I don’t know which argument is stronger. It doesn’t seem like an open-shut case either way. Further analysis required.  … But I’m mentally preparing to root for Dems to cling to their Senate majority, if that’s what it takes to block a misguided and irrevocable surrender of border control.

Nobody said gridlock would be easy.**

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** — I suppose it’s also possible the two GOP-controlled chambers of Congress would pass the sort of Enforcement First/Amnesty After legislation that would merit support, solving the immigration riddle. It’s also (barely) conceivable that a legacy-seeking Barack Obama would sign such a law in his waning days as president. The bills all get prettier at closing time. But this seems the least likely possibility.