A Eulogy for Bipartisan Legislation

The President will act alone to fix our broken immigration system.
The President will act alone to fix our broken immigration system.

Yesterday President Obama told Americans something that many of them already knew: Congressional immigration reform is dead for this year. The president gave a eulogy for the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate:

One year ago this month, senators of both parties—with support from the business community, labor, law enforcement, faith communities—came together to pass a common-sense immigration bill. Independent experts said that bill would strengthen our borders, grow our economy, shrink our deficits. As we speak, there are enough Republicans and Democrats in the House to pass an immigration bill today, I would sign it into law today, and Washington would solve a problem in a bipartisan way.

But, according to the president, “for more than a year, Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to allow an up-or-down vote on that Senate bill or any legislation to fix our broken immigration system.” While the president said that “I believe Speaker Boehner when he says he wants to pass an immigration bill,” he also said that Boehner informed him last week that “the Republicans will continue to block a vote on immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year.”

In a blog later today, I will look at President Obama’s plan for executive action on immigration, but it is important to acknowledge the dramatic failure of the House leadership to not only pass immigration reform, but even to come up with a piece of written legislation. Nearly a year and a half after the Senate began working on immigration reform, we still have no idea what the House leaders even conceive of as a workable framework for reform. We have a worthless one-page set of “principles” that took a year to draft. Even that was rejected at Speaker Boehner’s winter retreat.

No compromise on immigration could be hammered out because the House failed in its most basic function—the crafting of legislation.