House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (left), who is pictured with Speaker Paul Ryan, said in an interview with Playbook that the House is not bound by the deal cut in the Senate to end the shutdown. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
As the Senate was voting yesterday, we headed up to the third floor of the capitol to sit down with HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP STEVE SCALISE (R-LA.). Scalise was recently discharged from the hospital, where he had another post-shooting surgery. Monday was his first day back in the Capitol.
SCALISE was in good spirits. He was sharp -- especially considering he had surgery less than two weeks ago. He had a few thoughts about the immigration debate… Keep this in mind: Scalise -- and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry of North Carolina -- interact with every single House Republican. They know the mood of the conference as well as anyone.
Story Continued Below
SCALISE told us the House doesn’t feel at all bound by SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL’S (R-KY) agreement with Senate Democrats to consider immigration legislation by Feb. 8. “March is really the timeline. … The House wasn’t part of that deal.”
We asked SCALISE if Graham-Durbin -- the bipartisan immigration deal du jour -- stands a chance, and he said “not in the House.” “It’s good for everybody to put their ideas on paper but ultimately there are things that can and cannot pass in the House. And we have to work through those details and we’re working through them.”
Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.
By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.
SCALISE said he thought it would “excite our base” if they get a big immigration deal. But he said bluntly: “We’re not going to pass a bill that has amnesty. There are things that would anger our base that I don’t see us passing in the House.”
WELL, that deal was cute while it lasted. If the House doesn’t feel at all bound by the deal cut in the Senate, this whole three-day shutdown was for absolutely naught. YES, THERE APPEARS TO BE a bipartisan kumbaya in the Senate. But in the House, there’s a different tune being sung.
-- EXPECTATION SETTING: The Senate seems quite ready to tackle a big, bipartisan immigration deal. The only big legislation the House has passed in the last year is a tax bill, which was done with Republicans only. As we kick off this immigration debate, set your expectations to the lowest common denominator. Yes, it’s true that if put on truth serum, a majority of the House would probably support the DREAM Act. But in the real world, the leadership will be worried about their own preservation, and conservatives will ensure the debate tacks to the right.
… OF COURSE, there’s a case to be made that the House will feel such intense political pressure that they’ll have to put something on the floor that a huge chunk of the conference hates. Time will only tell. But we think that's unlikely.This article tagged under:
Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.