Can the House Republicans hold out against calls to pass the Senate’s version of immigration reform? Will Speaker Dennis Hastert keep his pledge never to bring legislation to the floor that doesn’t have support of a majority of the House Republican caucus? Will the White House pull out all the stops in pressuring House members to support the Senate version? Will real conservatives draw a line in the sand and say “stop?” These are all questions whose answers will determine whether the Republicans maintain control of one or both houses of Congress this fall; Whether or not Nancy Pelosi becomes the next Speaker of the House; Whether or not Charlie Rangel and Jack Murtha get to initiate impeachment hearings against George Bush; Whether or not we have a Senate majority that will continue to make some progress on judicial appointments or perhaps confirm another conservative Justice to the Supreme Court.
More importantly, the answers to those questions will have much to do with determining the future of the Republican Party.
If the House of Representatives approves anything resembling the Senate immigration bill — or anything that smacks of amnesty — then that will mean one of two things: either Dennis Hastert will have broken his pledge and the bill will pass with overwhelming support from Democrats and a minority of Republicans, at which point the conservative base will have been abandoned by the entire GOP leadership, or the White House, the press, and key “moderates” will have twisted the arms of half of the GOP House caucus, at which point conservatives will have been abandoned by their own.
The end result of either scenario will be the wholesale revolt of conservatives which will manifest itself at the ballot box, either in primaries against traitorous incumbents, or by sitting on their hands in the general election.
This is to say nothing of the energy that will be wasted that could be spent attacking liberals instead. But some in the moderate camp seem to want it that way, or at least don’t mind such a conflict. They seem bent on attempting to take control the Party’s ideological steering wheel, and want a confrontation to bring it about. Many almost seem to smugly revel in provoking the conservative base.