Senate ‘no’ votes on immigration reform help to boost Boehner

Every Senate Republican leader will vote against the immigration reform bill this week.

Those votes will increase Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE’s (R-Ohio) leverage with the White House and Senate Democrats. But congressional experts say the Senate GOP’s opposition decreases the chances that President Obama will sign an immigration measure into law this year.

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The unified leadership front against the pending Senate bill will help Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) fend off calls to schedule a House vote on it. BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE has been critical of the upper chamber’s bipartisan legislation.

He has said any immigration bill that hits the House floor will have to abide by the so-called “Hastert rule.” But Boehner has left open the possibility that he could schedule a House-Senate immigration measure that does not have the support of most House GOP lawmakers.

Democrats, including Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration White House: Trump remarks didn't derail shutdown talks Schumer defends Durbin after GOP senator questions account of Trump meeting MORE (N.Y.), are touting their expectations that the 1,200-page bill will pass with about 70 votes, including the support of about 15 Republicans. They say this will put pressure on Boehner to agree to legislation granting legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.

“It makes it much more difficult to get passed,” said John Feehery, a former senior House GOP leadership aide and a columnist for The Hill. “The Republican leadership is all against it in the Senate, and the Republican leadership is much more conservative by and large in the House. I just can’t see how Boehner sticks his neck out.”

Not one Senate GOP leader voted on Monday for an amendment to add 20,000 border patrol agents and construct 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico line. The amendment included the 1,100-page underlying bill along with 119 pages of new border-security language, providing a forecast of how lawmakers would vote on final passage.

“I see that probably as unlikely that there are going to be amendments that get adopted between now and the time we get to final passage that will change my view on it. The vote last night in a lot of ways, for all intents and purposes, was the vote on the legislation,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneWeek ahead: Tech giants to testify on extremist content Overnight Tech: GOP senator presses Apple over phone slowdowns | YouTube cancels projects with Logan Paul after suicide video | CEOs push for DACA fix | Bill would punish credit agencies for breaches GOP senator presses Apple on phone slowdowns MORE (S.D.) said.

“By and large, I think what you’re seeing right now is probably what you’re going to get in the final passage,” he added.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (Ky.) set the tone by declaring Monday the legislation would not guarantee border security before putting millions of illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship. “If we can’t guarantee that, anything else we do won’t be worth much,” he said in a statement.

On Tuesday, McConnell told reporter,  “I hope the House will be able to pass a companion measure and we’ll have a conference and deal with an issue of this magnitude in a way that we should.”

GOP strategists say the Boehner-McConnell alliance is strong.

“When this bill passes the Senate, the fact that Republican leaders are voting against it takes some pressure off the House Republican leadership,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist who formerly served as a senior leadership aide in the Senate and the House. “They now have some cover.”

The House is expected to move several smaller pieces of immigration legislation addressing border security and other issues after the weeklong July 4 recess. That would initiate a Senate-House conference to negotiate a compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) said last week Boehner will soon feel the heat. 

But Bonjean said there is little chance House Republicans will embrace a comprehensive bill that provides a pathway to citizenship.

“There’s wide skepticism that we’ll see anything come out of conference,” he said. “I’m very skeptical. The chances of an immigration bill becoming law this year are very remote.”

Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump’s infrastructure plan may slip to next month Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism Trump's infrastructure team to huddle with senators MORE (Wyo.) voted against the motion to proceed to the bill earlier this month and plans to vote no on final passage. 

“Unless something drastically changes, I’ll continue to vote that way,” he said.

Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Senate GOP wary of ending Russia probes, despite pressure GOP on precipice of major end-of-year tax victory MORE (Mo.) declared his opposition Tuesday in a statement: “According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the underlying Senate bill would only cut illegal immigration by 25 percent. That’s just not good enough.”

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Hoyer suggests Dems won't support spending bill without DACA fix MORE (Texas) has stated since early in the debate that he would only vote for immigration reform if it mandated 100 percent surveillance capabilities and a 90-percent apprehension rate of illegal crossers along the southern border. He says these benchmarks are non-negotiable.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranDoug Jones to become only Dem senator with black chief of staff Congress should stand for rural America by enhancing broadband connectivity Immigrant entrepreneurs are vital to American prosperity MORE (Kan.) also voted against the border security amendment Monday.

Fifteen Republican senators voted for the amendment, and that number could grow slightly. 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 MORE (R-Ohio) said he could vote “yes” on final passage if the Senate adopts changes he has proposed to strengthen the E-Verify program, which employers use to check the legal status of hires. Portman wants to speed up the program’s implementation timeline and strengthen its authentication requirements.

Sens. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy Isakson'Apprentice' winner Randal Pinkett on Trump: 'No question in my mind he’s a racist' GOP senator: Trump 'owes the people of Haiti and all of mankind an apology' Reforming veterans health care for all generations of veterans MORE (R-Ga.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.) missed Monday’s vote and are also seen as possible yes votes.

Reid said Tuesday it’s hard to predict how Boehner will react to the opposition of Senate GOP leaders.

“The Speaker has said within a period of a little over 24 hours, we’re going to pass [an] immigration bill [and will] have Democratic votes to do it. As soon as these [Republican] crazies heard that, I guess they talked to him, and the next day he came back and said, ‘I will only pass it if I have majority of the majority,’ ” Reid said.

“So the point is, I’m not sure [he or] anyone else in the House really know what they’re doing,” he added. 

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “House Republicans support immigration reform. Our focus is getting the policy right, so we fix our broken immigration system and help our economy grow. And anything as far-reaching, complex, and permanent as immigration reform should not be enacted without broad bipartisan support. … If immigration reform is going to work, it is essential that we have the confidence of the American people that it is done the right way and with the support of a majority of both parties in Congress.”