Even though he has not gone as far as North Korea's Kim Jong Un did with his uncle, it seems that, at long last, House speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has broken with the Tea Party Neanderthals over the budget deal, and that he is now ready to more ahead with immigration reform. So goes the conventional wisdom.

This is not to say that this view is without foundation. The Guardian, for example, reports:

"House speaker John Boehner signaled a major break from right-wing conservatives on Thursday [December 12] when he accused activist groups of losing 'all credibility' by opposing his efforts to reach a deal with Democrats over the $1tn federal budget.

Heritage Action, a group behind many Tea Party Republicans, issued a testy response on Friday [December 13], claiming that Boehner was trying to clear the way for immigration reform next year by severing his links with opponents on the right of the party."

See: Republicans eye immigration reform after budget deal exposes party rift (December 13).


The Guardian continues:

"Some conservative commentators, such as Red State blogger Erick Erickson, have even speculated that this was the prime motivation for Boehner's surprise attack on the right, describing it as the 'first real shots' in the party's forthcoming battle over immigration."

The Guardian also points to Boehner's hiring of Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) former immigration specialist Rebecca Tallent as a sign that there may be a "serious plan" to move forward on immigration reform in 2014.

But, at the risk of sounding over-pessimistic, it may be just a little too early to break open the champagne bottles to celebrate impending reform.

An updated December 13 column by Deirdre Walsh, CNN Senior Congressional Producer, has the title: "Don't expect Boehner to totally change course."

(I cannot help remarking that this title shows that CNN may not only feel less bound by conventional wisdom on the immigration issue than the above British publication, but that CNN, and American media in general, do not seem to be as constricted as their British counterparts by concerns over trivial matters such as the rules of English grammar. But there I go nitpicking again, so I will return to the main point.)

Walsh writes:

"Those pushing for comprehensive reform seized on Boehner's posture to conservative advocates...

But senior congressional GOP aides caution that Boehner's comments this week did not signal a broader approach on legislation.

California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa told reporters he's been working to bridge the partisan divide over immigration for the past 13 years, but he predicted that any progress will remain elusive."


Laura Matthews, writing in International Business Times, also sounds a note of caution despite her generally update reaction to Boehner's criticism of the Tea Party. She argues that the budget deal basically dealt with smaller issues that were easier to resolve than the more far reaching issues involved immigration reform. See: Immigration Reform 2013: Conservatives Convinced Boehner Ready To Sell Out After Budget Deal (December 13)


Matthews quotes Steven Camarota of the "conservative" [anti-immigrant is a better description] Center for Immigration Studies as follows:

"The budget deal doesn't deal with any of the hard stuff...They just agreed to kick the damn can down the road...But with immigration you gotta confront the tough stuff up front."

Matthews concludes, however:

"Still, with an issue that's been declared dead on so many occasions this year, advocates are still choosing to remain optimistic."

Does Boehner's apparent rift with the Tea Party mean good news for immigration reform in 2014?

My own view may seem rather simplistic, but I suggest that the wisest approach would be to believe that we will have reform when we see it pass both Houses of Congress, not one day sooner.