Dear Mr. President,
It’s truly fitting that at letter No. 50, you would actually put the spotlight back squarely on immigration reform with a speech from the White House. What government shutdown? Who even remembers? All of mainstream media has already refocused on comprehensive immigration reform and the pressure builds on none other than John “Bonehead” Boehner.
You are right in noting, as you did on Oct. 24, that “we’ve kicked this particular can down the road for too long.” Yet it seems Republicans in the House, still sour from what they claim is your refusal to work with them in the past two months, are adamant that they will not deal with this issue this year—and maybe just to spite you!
So what should be done? I think it may be time for another beer summit in the few days left in this legislative calendar—this one with those Republicans in the House who support the issue and those who may. Of course, you can’t not invite Boehner—all must be invited. Whether they choose to come or not will be on them.
But it cannot appear that you simply want to give speeches or directives from the White House and not smooze or romance them. It seems most are in dire need of some love and attention, so give it to them and don’t appear like you are ordering them around. You know how they hate that.
Chief among those to be smoozed is Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), who have both said they are supportive of immigration reform that includes a “pathway to citizenship” and want it passed this year—unlike what most GOP House members feel.
So far, there are 28 Republicans in the House who say they support comprehensive immigration reform. Add Denham to that mix and it will be 29. Throw in your 200 Democrats and you have your majority vote to pass the much needed, economically rewarding measure.
And Republicans undoubtedly need something positive now more than ever. A CNN poll on Oct. 22 found that three-quarters of Americans think most don’t deserve re-election while the influential Cook Political Report moved its forecasts on 14 congressional races in the Democrats’ direction (with only one seat in the GOP’s direction).
As Jeff Pollock, a Democratic pollster who works on House races, told Time: “It’s kind of remarkable how bad the Republican brand is right now.” Yet Boehner simply refuses to see this. Instead of moving to bring the immigration bill to the floor, without the silly Hastert rule, he’s stuck like the tea party on “Obamacare,” releasing a video message on his website on Oct. 24 in which he shared “just a few of the hundreds of devastating stories he has received from Eighth District constituents about the effects the president’s health care law is having on their lives.”
Of course, very few Blacks, Hispanics or Asians live in Boehner’s district, and his daughter’s immigrant husband does not count, so he’s not worried about his re-election bid. But what about the GOP’s national fate? Perhaps Rep. Luis Guiterrez should be appointed to plan and bring together the GOP to the summit I’ve recommended. After all, he’s the only one who seems to really get that partisan politics will not work.
You and all can do well to follow his advice: “The only way we actually get anything done is to put aside the shouting matches and work together.”
The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.