The Senate has passed the immigration bill and now the battle moves to the House. Although 68-32 is a strong vote, recall that in 2008, the Senate similarly passed their bill 62-32 and the House killed it. This time, there is more hope given the electoral incentives for both parties to get it done. But there are also stumbling blocks in the House.
Alan Gomez yesterday in USA Today reported the uphill battle the bill faces in the House. The House would prefer to break up the comprehensive immigration bill into chunks because Gomez surmises that after Obama's health care act, they are wary of comprehensive legislation. Although Senators have urged the House to vote for the bill, saying that a lack of action on immigration will doom the Republican party in the 2014 presidential race, there is a more troubling and immediate calculation going on in the House. As Gomez writes:
The bill is politically difficult for most House Republicans, who represent less diverse and more conservative districts after the 2012 process that redrew district lines based on population shifts. According to the non-partisan Cook Political Report, about 80% of House Republicans represent districts so conservative they are unlikely to ever face a general election threat. In that climate, Republicans are more likely to face primary election threats, and immigration has long been a divisive issue within the GOP.
Given the strong and immediate re-electoral incentive for House members, they may not be thinking of the GOP's long term future.
What to look for next? Boehner has made clear the House will not just vote on the Senate bill and the House will draft their own bill. What that bill looks like remains to be seen, and what will me most telling is how widely it diverges from the Senate Bill. Even if the House passes their version of the bill, the two bills have to be reconciled in conference. Although the Senate passage is a huge hurdle, many more remain before a historic immigration bill is passed.