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McConnell Cools on Immigration Reform:

Image: McConnell Cools on Immigration Reform

By Elliot Jager

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that differences between the House and Senate on immigration reform are too big to bridge in 2014, The Hill reported.

The Senate passed a comprehensive bipartisan immigration bill in June that would set a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million people now in the U.S. illegally.

Latest: Do You Support Giving Illegals Citizenship? Vote Here Now 

McConnell said the differences between the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-led House are “irresolvable,” the Hill reported.

“I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place,” said McConnell.

McConnell is facing off against tea party opponent Matt Bevin in Kentucky’s GOP primary. Bevin has taken a hard-nosed anti-immigration stance.

Republican strategists including William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, and Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of RedState, have argued that this is not the time to tackle immigration. Doing so, they say, would call attention to divisions within the party and take attention away from the failures of President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

House Republican leaders led by Speaker John Boehner had issued a statement of principles on immigration, in conjunction with the recent House retreat, that would revamp the country’s immigration laws a little at a time and in a way that non-tea party conservatives could live with.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who helped to craft the principles, said he does not know if an immigration law can be passed. “That is clearly in doubt,” he told ABC’s “This Week” and depends on whether Democrats were willing to “secure the border,” and “agree to not having an amnesty,” The Hill reported.

Republican Rep. Jeff Denham of California who supports immigration reform, said that the House leadership has not given up,  according to Breitbart. 

“I think leadership’s focus and my focus is to get [immigration] done as early as possible. It’s part of our conference agenda right now. It doesn’t go on the agenda without scheduling bills and scheduling time on the floor,” Denham said.

Meanwhile, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who backed the Senate immigration bill, said that McConnell was probably right about prospects for immigration reform.

“The Democrats want amnesty and the Republicans would like to solve this problem, but in the House they’re not about to give amnesty,” he said.

Editor’s Note: 5 Reasons Stocks Will Collapse . . . 

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Why Marco Rubio voted against the fiscal cliff deal:

By voting against the fiscal cliff deal, Sen. Marco Rubio's anti-tax position remains immaculate.
By voting against the fiscal cliff deal, Sen. Marco Rubio‘s anti-tax position remains immaculate.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • The GOP‘s superstar senator, a potential 2016 contender, was one of only eight senators to oppose the bipartisan package
  • The Senate on Tuesday voted 89-8 to pass a bill extending the Bush tax cuts for all but the wealthiest Americans. The legislation was hailed by leaders of both parties as a bipartisan effort to prevent across-the-board tax hikes, and represented the first time in 20 years that the GOP has agreed to allow tax rates on anyone to rise. But five Republicans were not on board, most conspicuously Sen. Marco Rubio, the rising star from Florida who is widely seen as a potential candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. “Rapid economic growth and job creation will be made more difficult under the deal reached here in Washington,” Rubio said in a statement, arguing that layoffs would ensue from raising taxes on the wealthy and small businesses.

If there is a common Achilles Heel for senators aspiring to become president, it is their voting record. Democratic and Republican primaries can be purist affairs, and compromises on core ideological beliefs do not play well with base voters. Hillary Clinton‘s vote to authorize the Iraq War, for example, doomed her campaign against Barack Obama. Indeed, Rubio, who like Obama was a celebrity before setting foot on Capitol Hill, may be wise to follow Obama’s example, making his tenure in the Senate as short, sweet, and fingerprint-free as possible.

It appears that the Republican leadership agrees. Party unity was essential on the fiscal cliff vote, since a large defection could have alarmed GOP members and scuttled the deal. However,a few senators were allowed to keep their anti-tax position immaculate, and it’s no coincidence that Rubio was one of them. He is one of the party’s greatest hopes, and it would be a shame to see his 2016 candidacy go down in flames in the primary over a single vote.

Some conservative commentators are disappointed in Rubio’s no vote. “Apparently, his advisers have convinced him that irresponsibility is the road to the White House,” says Jennifer Rubin atThe Washington Post. “It is not the first time that he has chosen to play to the right-wing peanut gallery, showing a troublesome timidity in the face of future primary votes.” However, others disagree, underlining the perils of going against party orthodoxy. “Like TARP in 2008, this vote will separate the conservatives from the Republicans,” says Erick Erickson at Red State.

With that kind of pressure, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Republican leadership allowed Rubio to vote anyway he liked over the next four years, creating a one-man bubble to protect their star from the contamination of Washington deal-making. On the flip side, it will be interesting to see in the coming months how much freedom Rubio is given to reach a deal on immigration reform. The Cuban-American is expected to spearhead the party’s approach to the issue as it tries to make gains with Latino voters, but it’s an area that could get him into trouble with the base.


By Ryu Spaeth

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