The next week should begin to clarify how hysterical the opposition from conservative think tanks and talk radio hosts will become, which will in turn have a major influence on Republican senators whose votes are in question. And the elephant in the room is whether the much-touted Gang of Eight will become a Gang of Seven, i.e. if Marco Rubio will decide he's better off being a hero of the far right by bailing on the immigration reform effort.
“The key is Rubio,” said Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. “Without Rubio, this bill would not get anywhere with Republicans. He gives them the cover.”So basically, here's what the next week is likely to bring: Republicans will offer a series of amendments that would make immigration reform more punitive, make a path to citizenship longer and more hazardous, and call for sharks with laser beams on the border. Meanwhile, they'll scream that Democratic amendments making it easier for families to be together are poison pills making Democrats responsible for Republican opposition to the bill. Everyone will be sucking up to the Republican maybe votes, while Marco Rubio will be trying to figure out which is more important to his political future, the DeMint crowd or the Beltway media reputation as a conservative who's nonetheless willing to get things done. And maybe occasionally we'll get a reminder that millions of people's futures are at stake here.