It is not very often when you hear a politician be negative about anything other then his political opponents. Having a politician be down on his own pet project is outright rare. On Tuesday Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) acknowledged on conservative talk radio that the immigration reform bill proposed by the Gang of Eight would not likely pass the House of Representative.
The frank admission from Rubio demonstrates the opposition that faces immigration reform as it moves through Congress. The bi-partisan bill that the Gang of Eight proposed has long road with many pitfalls ahead of it if it ever is to reach President Obama’s desk to be signed into law in 2013.
Rubio was rather forthright when talking on the Mike Gallagher Show about the bill, saying, "The bill that’s in place right now probably can’t pass the House." Rubio commented on the desire for tough border security that many in the House have expressed a desire for, saying that the bill "[…]will have to be adjusted, because people are very suspicious about the willingness of the government to enforce the laws now."
Rubio has been forthright about trying to address concerns about the bill that conservatives have. He appeared in a series of TV ads that touted the toughness of the border security provisions in the bill saying that it, "puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world."
Already there have been moves in the House to derail the entire immigration reform process. Earlier in April, several House conservatives said they would introduce several small-scale immigration proposals before considering the Senate bill. These proposals are expected to be much more conservative then the Senate bill. Critics say that such measures are designed to draw out the debate and allow anti-immigration special interest groups the time to mobilize opposition to any reform whatsoever.
Former Senator Jim DeMint, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, will also be leading the charge against the bill. The Heritage Foundation plans to release a study that will claim that the immigration bill is too expensive for the American economy. A similar study in 2007 was important in stopping former President George W. Bush’s immigration reform effort. Fellow Republicans and other group criticized that study as flawed since its introduction.
The Senate immigration bill does have allies in the House however. Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has indicated his support for the bill and will be key in any efforts to pass it in the House. As House Budget Chairman Ryan will mark up the bill’s cost and could be instrumental in defeating cries about the cost of the bill. Few would accuse Ryan, author of the austerity obsessed Ryan budget, as one who favors big spending. When talking about immigration reform at an event in Chicago, Ryan used strong language on how essential it was to pass, saying, "We need it for national security reasons. We need it for the economy. We do not want to have a society where we have different classes of people who cannot reach their American dream by not being a full citizen."
The battle lines are clearly being drawn as various factions in Congress make their feeling know on the current immigration reform bill. As the pro and anti-immigration reform sides prepare for the coming legislative battle ahead, it promises to a long drawn out slugfest in the halls of Congress.