Kristol To House GOP On Immigration: No Capitulation, No Comprehensive Bill, No Conference


BILL KRISTOL: The other consequence of this, I think, is the House. They are in a state, and I think not only are they not going to take up the Senate bill -- they may move some small immigration bills of their own focusing on border security and a few other things -- but I think they're now of the attitude, and I agree with this, that they should be careful not to get sucked into some kind of conference for the Senate bill, where it could come back to the House. It would be hard for Boehner not to bring it back up, and then it could pass with a majority of Democrats in the House. I think they're very wary of falling into some sort of legislative trap where even though a majority of House Republicans don't want this bill, it could end up being very hard for them to block it.

So, I think you'll see in the next couple of weeks House Republicans moving to not just not take up the Senate bill, certainly not rubber stamp it or not even take it up, but also try to figure out how to avoid going to conference for the Senate bill. The slogan, "No conference for the Senate bill," I really think that's the right thing for House Republicans to do, and I hope they do it.

MICHAEL GRAHAM: Would they be able to offer a counter-proposal to confront the notion that Republicans are just the party of no, they just resist everything? Could they put together a package of border security issues, workplace enforcement and then the possibility that if targets are met that there'd be some legalization of the people who are here without getting themselves into a conference trap?

KRISTOL: Sure, they could pass individual pieces of legislation or knit them together as they wish. That's not going to be easy. This is a hard problem, and in some cases maybe deciding just to do nothing for now and revisit it in a year or two, but I hope they can pass pieces of legislation. I think the key then is to say, "Look, the Senate should take up this legislation." The Senate could amend it, the Senate could send it back to us. That's traditionally the way legislation often gets worked out. But we are not going to let you use as an excuse for going to conference some piece of border security legislation or guest worker legislation or high-tech visa legislation that we pass. Because once they go to conference, the Senate can dominate the conference, the few renegade House Republicans can team with House Democrats to end up with a conference report. Then the speaker's in the position of is he not going to bring up a conference report? And once it gets to the floor, it can be passed with overwhelmingly Democratic votes in the House. So, it's a little technical, I guess, as a legislative process matter, but I think it's very important that House Republicans, on the one hand, put forward their own ideas, absolutely, but on the other hand, take the position: no capitulation to the Senate bill. I'd say no comprehensive legislation in the way comprehensive is being used -- 1,200 page bill full of pork and exceptions and waivers and all that. So no capitulation, no comprehensive legislation and no conference with the Senate bill.

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