Schumer’s Immigration Formula: Bipartisan Success

Photograph by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A supporter of the immigration activist group “Nuns on the Bus” walks by the bus during a rally to mark the end of the group’s cross country trip on June 18, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who has helped steer his Gang of Eight’s immigration bill through the Senate — with passage expected today — says the bipartisan nature of it is what will overcome considerable resistance in the Republican-run House.

Contrary to House Speaker John Boehner’s insistence that only a bill enjoying the support of a majority of his cause — the so-called Hastert Rule — will reach the floor of the House, Schumer says it will be an alliance of House Republicans and Democrats who pass the bill. Republicans who oppose it, under Schumer’s theory, will prevail upon Boehner to let them have their no vote but get this controversial bill off their backs heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

The Republican Party cannot be seen as the force that killed a bill essential to its own electoral future, the thinking goes. It’s not so much that embracing immigration reform will win over the Hispanic vote that went to President Barack Obama in 2012 — it’s that blocking the bill is another nail in the party’s coffin. That’s the message that Sen. Marco Rubio, the Republican from Florida leading his party’s push for immigration reform, is sending.

While the Schumer-Rubio gang has fallen short of its “goal” of 70 votes in the Senate, Schumer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today, the 67 votes advancing the measure is a remarkable achievement — two-thirds of the Senate.

“We wanted to get a significant number of Republicans to vote for the bill,,” Schumer said. “It means that when the bill goes to the House, there’s going to be pressure on them to do something. So we’re feeling pretty good about how we did.”

House Republicans will go to Boehner and say, ”Look, I don’t want to vote for this, but get it off our back,” Schumer said.
“We won’t meet the Hastert rule, the majority of a majority, we just need the atmosphere to be such that says, ‘I can’t vote for it, but get it off the table.'”

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