Activity in the House of Representatives, where several GOP lawmakers are working on various immigration bills, has injected some hope into the immigration reform issue.
The comments that House Speaker John Boehner made, that he understands the importance of this subject and is “hopeful” that there will be a vote by year’s end, are a drop of encouragement in a landscape darkened by disagreement. This is a good signal to leave grudges behind, making way for legislative work.
On the other hand, having more Republican congresspeople working on bills focused on legalization is in itself encouraging. However, the concrete possibilities for success are still in Boehner’s hands.
The speaker is the one who has the last word in putting a bill up for a vote in the plenary. The question is which measures would be the ones that he would hypothetically put up for a vote.
In reality, the only bill that apparently has enough support is HR 15, a version of the bipartisan deal reached in the Senate. More than 20 GOP lawmakers support it. Many Republican measures do not have enough support within the caucus to be approved in the plenary.
This is an opportunity for Boehner to display the same leadership that he showed during the government shutdown. Then, he was able to reopen the government thanks to a bipartisan vote that set aside the most recalcitrant wing of his caucus. This is the best path for comprehensive immigration reform.
Gestures of support for reform from the White House, like the one President Obama made yesterday, are welcome. However, the action is up to the lower chamber. The president can’t do a lot more, because today the reform is in Boehner’s hands.