President and Democrats Ready for the Next Big Battle; Immigration Reform

Washington, D.C.-Now that Republicans have been handed their defeat over the debt-ceiling debacle; the President and Democrats are ready for more battles that will be a tough sell in the hard-right House. In a speech that served as the President’s victory dance he vowed to deal with two very important issues: immigration reform which includes a pathway to citizenship, climate change and a farm bill.

The President has promised immigration reform for some time, but it has been waylaid by too many other issues; potential war in Syria, the debt-ceiling and budget talks. Earlier this week Obama vowed that the day after the debt-ceiling fiasco was over and behind us, he would resume his push for immigration reform since it is what the majority of Americans want.

Well, today is that day, and in a speech he said it was time to shift the focus to the immigration reform. And Democratic leaders in Congress are ready to start pushing for a comprehensive reform bill again, though it is unlikely Republicans are willing to work with the President, not that they have ever really worked with him on anything.

Rep. Raul Labrador, a Tea Party Republican from Idaho who was once part of the House’s Immigration Committee said today that reform is not likely to take shape this year.

“It’s not going to happen this year,” Labrador said, according to USA Today. “After the way the president acted over the last two or three weeks where he would refuse to talk to the speaker of the House … they’re not going to get immigration reform. That’s done.”

Republicans in the House have been very critical of the Senate’s immigration bill and are opposed to offering a pathway to citizenship. Speaker Boehner vowed to do a set of smaller bills but little progress has been made.  Boehner is still being held under the thumbs of Tea Party lawmakers who helped drag out the debt-ceiling with their incessant demands and won’t be so easy to give into immigration reform especially if it includes a pathway to citizenship.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla., however is not as cynical about the prospect of passing immigration reform. He has been working with other Republicans in the House to draft reform legislation that will garner majority support.

“There’s a lot of folks here who have been working and feel cautiously optimistic,” Balart said after Wednesday’s vote to end the government shutdown.

“I wouldn’t be spending this much time, this much effort, if I didn’t think we had a chance to get it done,” he added.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, (D- IL) was equally optimistic stating that the government shutdown will be the motivation Republicans need to do something good for the country, referring to legislation that was passed after the last government shutdown in 1996.

“It was in people’s self-interest to pass some good stuff,” Gutierrez said. “That’s what’s going to drive a lot of what goes on around here.”

If House Republicans fail to pass immigration reform they also risk losing the Latino vote which they’ll need if they hope to win future elections.