Van Hollen: Budget vote could spur immigration

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said House Republicans could be emboldened to take up immigration reform, if they do not receive much flak for approving the budget deal Thursday night. 

Van Hollen said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) should have stood up to conservative outside groups before this week. But his decision to do so before the vote was a positive step.    

ADVERTISEMENT
"This is an example where he actually took them on and said these outside groups are just promoting themselves by taking these positions,” Van Hollen told The Huffington Post. “So again, if his members vote for this and don't get too much flak, maybe it will embolden the Speaker to finally do the right thing [on immigration].”

Van Hollen said he believed Boehner could have stood up to outside groups without threatening his speakership long before. 

“But I also think that he made the assessment that, if he were to lose the speakership, it wouldn't be any better,” Van Hollen said. “I don't disagree with that. He probably said, from his perspective, he's doing the best he can in a bad situation."

Heritage Action, one of the conservative groups that opposed the deal, has already sent a warning that bringing up immigration reform during an election year could prevent the GOP base from turning out in the 2014 midterms. 

“That is a major concern, not just for policy reasons, but because you can’t afford that, heading into a midterm election when you need your base to turn out,” Dan Holler, communications director for the group, told The Hill on Thursday.  

Van Hollen said he did not know if the budget agreement had been a turning point with the GOP. 

“Maybe they will not be scared of the shadow of the right-wing Tea Party every time they do something," he said.

While the agreement passed the House with a 332-94 vote, a number of GOP Senators have come out against the proposal. 

“The jury is still out with Senate Republicans,” he said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding that Senate Democrats would likely support the deal.