Chamber of Commerce Slowly Backs Away From "Comprehensive Immigration Reform"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 21 2013 12:12 PM

Chamber of Commerce Slowly Backs Away From "Comprehensive Immigration Reform"

If you remember this spring and summer, when "immigration reform" was something people in Washington and border states used to talk about, liberals who wanted reform were hopeful about their support from business interests. The Chamber of Commerce seemed to be all in on the campaign to pass a comprehensive bill, even running strange ads that aimed to make the cause palatable to conservatives.

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And yet here's a report from John Stanton about what Chamber President Tom Donohue and government affairs VP Bruce Josten were saying this morning.

“I don’t think they’ll pass a great big comprehensive bill. I think they’ll pass three of four things,” Donohue said.
“I would suggest the Speaker is stronger than he was four weeks ago. … I think he’s in a better position by letting out the air of the proverbial balloon,” Josten said of Boehner’s decision to let his conservative swing push the country to the brink of default. “He got a standing ovation” from his conference during the last meeting, he noted.
Donohue said he is hopeful the House and Senate will “go to conference, [and] have the president sign” immigration reform quickly.

What does any of that mean? Donohue's sounding more amenable to the House conservatives' approach to immigration reform, splitting up enforcement provisions (easily passed in the House) from legalization provisions (not as easily), not allowing a conference committee to merge the proposals. Josten is talking up the conference committee without making demands. The chamber isn't nudging the GOP to do anything more than conservatives are asking. So much (again!) for a Tea Party-business split.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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