President Obama yesterday, speaking in a high school in Las Vegas, placed the full blame of the US immigration policy impasse at the feet of one person, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, the man who could have allowed our democratic legislative institutions to work as intended with a simple declaration: “Let the vote take place.”
I echo comments by my colleague Michael Sean Winters in a recent blog post:
More to the point, if Speaker John Boehner cared more about the millions of people who are directly harmed by our country’s broken immigration system than he is about losing support within his own caucus, he would bring the Senate-passed immigration bill up for a vote tomorrow and the President’s actions would become moot. Whatever my problems with Obama, on this issue or any other, there is no moral equivalence. The Speaker and his caucus are the problem. They can huff and they can puff but they can’t blow down the moral argument for bringing comprehensive immigration reform up for a vote. They have no moral authority on this issue until they do so.
This report from today’s New York Times provides a summary look. It reads in part:
Obama’s decision to act unilaterally on immigration, announced in a prime-time address on Thursday night, came after months of congressional gridlock, in which the broad immigration overhaul that passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support died in the Republican-controlled House.
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On Friday, the president said he had no choice but to act on his own.
“It has now been 512 days, a year and a half, in which the only thing standing in the way of that bipartisan bill and my desk, so I can sign the bill, is a simple yes or no vote in the House of Representatives,” Mr. Obama told the enthusiastic crowd.
The president said that he had repeatedly urged Mr. Boehner to let the Senate bill come to a vote on the floor of the House, but to no avail. He said that he believed the Senate bill would have passed in the House if Mr. Boehner had let the full membership vote.
“I cajoled, and I called, and I met,” Mr. Obama said. “I told John Boehner I would — ‘Yeah, I’ll wash your car, I’ll walk your dog. Whatever you need to do, just call the bill.’ That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And if the votes hadn’t been there, then we would have had to start over, but at least give it a shot. And he didn’t do it.”
I especially like the washing of the car bit. The president sent a not so veiled message: "Yessir. I totally understand."