Sometime over the next week, an immigration bill that aims to resolve the fate of DACA and fund President Trump’s border wall will very likely fail to secure a majority of votes on the House floor – dying an ignominious death so familiar to those who have followed the repeated legislative attempts to address the country’s immigration problems.
In a last-minute decision, Republicans postponed a vote on a comprehensive immigration bill for the second time in less than a day, a sign of the struggles leaders are having to unite the conference on such a contentious topic.
There’s no reasonable expectation that the so-called “compromise” bill – which would have allocated $25 billion in funding for the border wall while also offering a path to citizenship to children brought to the United States illegally – has any chance at passage. That doom pervades despite the fact that Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump have both urged its passage through a Republican-controlled House.
The bill is caught between the same old Scylla and Charybdis that has dashed past legislation to pieces: Moderates unhappy about the massive spending on a debatably useful border wall and conservatives opposed to the idea of providing “amnesty” to people in the country illegally.
What’s more: Even if, by hook or by crook, the House manages to pass this compromise bill, it’s virtually certain to be dead on arrival in the Senate. Even if all 50 Republican senators voted for it – John McCain remains in Arizona battling brain cancer – the bill would need 10 votes from Democrats to bring it to the floor for debate. And unless you have been living on another planet for the last few years, you know that 10 Democrats ain’t voting for legislation that provides $25 billion in funding for a southern border wall.
So we are back to square one. No solution for DACA recipients. No more money allocated to the border wall. And looming just off in the distance this fall is the potential for another government shutdown unless some sort of deal is reached. Trump has already signaled that this time he won’t back down on shutting the government down if he doesn’t get the wall funding he wants. “We have to have borders, and we have to have them fast,” Trump said in a speech in Michigan in April. “And we need security. We need the wall. We’re going to have it all. And again, that wall has started. We got 1.6 billion. We come up again on September 28, and if we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country because we need border security.”
The Point: This has all happened before. Since the mid-2000s Congress has been trying and failing to find some sort of comprehensive immigration solution. Or even a semi-comprehensive one. Nothing has worked. Which means that everyone should get ready for the very real possibility of another government shutdown in late September.