On Sunday, New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) predicted that the House of Representatives would pass the Senate’s version of the immigration bill. Last week the Senate passed an immigration bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented while strengthening border security. Fourteen Republicans joined the Democrats to pass the immigration bill, while House Speaker John Boehner has been saying that the House will not simply take up the Senate’s bill.
Schumer told Fox News Sunday, “I believe that by the end of this year, the House will pass the Senate bill. I know that’s not what they think now. And they’ll say, ‘Oh no, that’s not what’s going to happen.’ But I think it will.”
Schumer added that Speaker Boehner will want to appease the business oriented members of his party saying, “Within several months, Speaker Boehner will find two choices: no bill or let a bill pass with a majority of Democratic votes and some Chamber of Commerce-type Republicans. And he’ll find that the better choice.”
Writer Jonathan Chait has already suggested that the House could pass the Senate’s version of the immigration reform bill using a discharge petition. Democrats would have to find 17 House Republicans who are willing to sign such a petition and support immigration reform.
“There’s a way around this problem: the discharge petition. If 218 members of the House sign one, then it automatically comes to the House floor for a vote. Last December, Democrats in the House threatened a discharge petition to bring up a Senate bill extending the Bush tax cuts on income under $250,000 a year.
House Democrats would have to do it again with the Senate immigration bill. Democrats only have 201 votes, so they’d need seventeen Republicans to join them, plus one for every Democrat who defects.
Could it work? Well, discharge petitions are rare. But the circumstances here are rare, too. For the majority party, signing a discharge is an act of disloyalty against the leadership. It undermines the Speaker’s ability to control what comes to a vote.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already identified 23 Republicans who are in districts where passing immigration reform would be a bigger priority. Those include some GOP congressional representatives in districts that went for President Obama in the last election cycle. As attention turns to the House, watch for immigration advocacy groups and the Democratic organizations to push those Republicans who represent districts where there are substantial Latino and immigrant populations to increase pressure for passing a bill with a pathway to citizenship.