The debate over Syria is taking time and attention away from other key legislative priorities. Specifically, the clock is ticking on immigration reform if it is to be anything more than political rhetoric in 2014.
Only 39 workdays remain for the House of Representatives between this coming Monday and the end of the year. This short period stems from an abysmal work ethic that requires only 126 days of work a year in Washington. It isn’t surprising that this congressional session is going down in the history books as the least productive since 1947.
This means that the House has little time left to deal with enormous issues such as Syria, defense spending, financing the government which expires on September 30, raising the debt ceiling, healthcare reform, approving the new head of the Federal Reserve and comprehensive immigration reform!
It is very likely that the fights over the budget, the debt ceiling, and issues related to Obamacare will consume as much time as they have in the past, reducing even further the days left to pass immigration reform.
Choosing not to follow the lead set by the Senate, the House instead slowed down the development of the comprehensive immigration reform bill. A huge divide still exists between those that want only punitive laws against immigrants and those that believe a broader focus is imperative.
As we’ve said in the past, the legislative future of immigration reform rests entirely in the hands of the Republicans. Their outright refusal to follow the Senate’s bipartisan approach releases the Democrats from further blame. The Democrats only insistence is to reject legislation that strengthens harsh punishments and doesn’t include a path to citizenship.
It’s possible the Republicans are making a political gamble here to put the divisive reform package aside until next year in order to get into the fiscal battles with the White House. This would be a serious miscalculation!