All In   |  May 17, 2013

Scandal-gate gives Republicans cover on immigration reform

The House 'Gang of Eight' have come to an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform. Chris Hayes talks the framework with Robert Costa and Marielena Hincapie.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes . thank you for joining us on this friday. news out of the white house that can have major implications from the foreign policy .

>>> also, the single most draw-dropping foreclosure, that i have ever heard.

>>> first, scandal gate week continued. it continued with a vengeance in washington today. steven miller was called up to capitol hill . he was to talk about groups for heightened scrutiny. the president asked miller to resign earlier this week but that could not spare miller from being served to house republicans like a pig for slaughter. a classic bit of washington hearing important, substance, not so much. grand standing? you bet.

>> why did you resign?

>> how can we conclude you did not mislead this community.

>> i will help give you clarity.

>> still doesn't know why he was question number 26 .

>> completely failed the american people .

>> why are you resigning.

>> as eric eriksson tweeted, allowing crappy congressman to look like conservative badass es. let me be clear, we are just getting started. heritage action for american, wing of the think tank the heritage foundation , wrote that banter instructed house republicans to forget about legislating and go all scandal all the time. quote, it would be imprudent to do anything that shifts the focus from the obama administration to the ideological differences twn the house republican congress . while that is enough to make your head want it explode, i have a theory that i've been working on all week and i think it is true. and a theory that has a promising conclusion. it may well be that the government doesn't have to choose between the scandal mongering and legislating. but the scandal mongering might help with the scandal mongering . progress was what speaker john boehner worried about just yesterday morning.

>> i am concerned the bipartisan group has been unable to wrap up their work.

>> there was a lot of question about whether this group was going to hit their deadline. whether they would come to any kind of agreement. and late last night, the bipartisan group announced they had mostly come to agree on terms for their outline of comprehensive immigration reform . from what we know, which is truthful truthfully, very little, it would be similar to what we know on the principle and senate and more conservative. what makes this announcement so huge is that while the house 's gang of eight has been toiling away from behind the scenes for the last four years, with much less attention than senate is, it has been very, very unclear and to some very unlikely they were ever going to be able to agree to anything. but they did. and that's a very big deal . here is why scandal fever and incomprehensive immigration reform are related. republicans have this problem. they lost the 2012 vote by 44 point. a truly astonishing margin. latinos are fastest growing part of the electorate. republicans recognize their stance on immigration is a huge impediment to closing margins. basically everyone at highest levels of gop recognizes that. consultant class. donor class and politicians themselves. but they still have the same base they've always had. and believe me that base is not psyched about immigration reform . 60% of republican voters oppose a pathway to citizenship. republicans still have the same base that got riled up the last time congress tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2007 and blow it up. so if you are a republican, you've got a problem. you're trapped between the two big challenges. you have to get right on immigration reform but do it without taking on your base. now, enter the irs scandal. now if you are, stay, paul ryan , who is at the hearing today and also a friend of the house 's gang of 8 immigration reform , can you go around beating the living crap out of the administration about benghazi and then go back and try to make immigration reform happen. the great thing for you is talk radio will only talk about scanned scandals. rush limbaugh mentioned ir sirs, 308 times. benghazi 85 times. ap 533 times and immigration 14 times. this is the perfect setting for republicans to legislate and use these scandals as cover. in other words while everyone in washington this week is asking, will scandal destroy obama 's second term agenda? these scandals might be the best thing that ever happened to obama 's central legislation priority for immigration. robert , i will begin with you and ask your response of someone who knows the house caucus very well.

>> i think it is a good argument, well argued.

>> that's very kind but don't hold back.

>> i was on capitol hill today huddling with leadership sources and you're right, they are very much consumed with the irs , benghazi and ap. but the resistance to the gang of 8 's bill that's coming out of the senate and resistance to the house bipartisan groups bill is still there. those who run the conservative flank, steve kings of house of republican congress , they will still try it kill this, chris . as much as there is a scandal distraction, there is still the resistance.

>> were you surprised that the house gang of 8 came to terms today? was that something you were expecting or is that a turn of events.

>> i think you are on to something, actually. i completely agree with you. i think this scandal is basically given the heritage foundation some coverage. they add really bad week. they need the scandal. they don't want congress senators or representatives to legislate. in fact, that's what they are doing. one of the incredible things happening on capitol hill is you've got senators, republicans and democrats who are sitting down, rolling up their sleeves and engaging in common sense immigration reform debate. on the house side, i think they feel the momentum we feel in the immigrant community. we know that the american public is so much further ahead than our policy makers. on many issues. the fact this they reached agreement in principle, we don't have the details of that. but it is very significant.

>> real quick.

>> please.

>> one thing i heard from senate sources is that the senate deal itself is to fragile that if the house conservatives and house republicans mess for instance with the time line for the path to citizenship making it 15 years instead of a lower number, that can ruin the senate compromise. so it is on thin ice is. it seems like immigration reform with the blessing of paul ryan is moving ahead, you can see it is steaming forward a little bit but it has such a long race ahead of it, i'm doubtful will scandals will release the skids.

>> i think it is remarkable what is happening here. you've got what will be the most significant legislation and one of the most significant in a generation if it happens. it is like people trying to build a jenga tower in the middle of a crowded dance floor . they are trying while everyone is going all over the place. there is all this energy. and you're right when you use the word delicate, robert . i absolutely think that's the case. the question is, it is so development that these little incremental changes seem to me to make a big difference. and you were talking about the good lots and steve kings. they will try to kill this no matter what. what i'm interested in, is go is going after the giving the space they need. are they the ones that bridge the gap, is having a thing they can talk to rush limbaugh about take pressure off them if they are also in the afternoon going to negotiate on the immigration bill ?

>> that's a great point, chris . one thing, i follow marco rubio around at a recent conservative conference and he was being slammed interview after interview by conservative talk radio. he was having a tough time the past month. now he is out there talking about the irs , the quote culture of intimidation within the obama administration. i think your point is a good one. i'm not saying i think it'll make sure immigration passes. but mark why rubio is in a different position right now because they are cheering him as he goes after the white house . and it may be like your rush limbaugh studies shows. maybe let more negotiations happen.

>> oofr r and here is a great recommendation to this. mark zuckerberg is trying to respond to this. they are running ads for lindsay graham that have nothing to do with immigration. they are just trying to cover his right flank and make sure he doesn't get a real nasty tea party challenge. take a look at this ad.

>> when lindsay graham is in washington , what does he do? he stand up for south carolina values.

>> change you can believe in after this healthcare bill debacle has become an empty slogan. and it is replaced by shady politics when you think about it.

>> i'm not going to be intimidated by this president. what i am suggesting is that we work smart and together. we are about to spend a trillion dollars sometime tonight, maybe. if this is change we can believe in, count me out.

>> call senator graham. tell him to keep fighting for south carolina .

>> the only reason this ad is being run is to get in the face of immigration. when you see the ad, are you in the mind of whatever means necessary to get this thing done? if this is the message you need to give him the room he needs to craft this legislation and move it forward, then that's the price you got to pay.

>> as a progressive, i'm not necessarily in favor or against that. but i have to say, you know, the dynamics, chris , are incredible. senator graham and many of his republican senators are getting a lot of love from many folks in the immigrant rights community and for many, many folks. there is a sense we want to give cover to those policy makers who are willing to engage in common sense immigration reform . and folks like sessions and perhaps good lott and cruz for example, are outliars. they just haven't gotten the memo that it is time for them to get immigration reform done and there will be consequences for both democratic and republican elected officials who do not vote in favor of immigration reform . it does matter what kind of immigration reform we get, of course.

>> and robert you made that point in the difference of the basic time span of path to citizenship years is two years longer out of the house and senate .

>> absolutely.

>> and whether that the drunken stumbling on to the jenga tower that knocks the thing over, that the big question. i still think the odds of something getting past have gone up during week. some what counter intuitively. thank you both. have a great weekend.

>> thank you.

>>> an amazing admission before congress yesterday about just how long we will be at war. new signs the white house is ready to speak about the unspeakable. that's next.