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“Drag-Racing Off A Political Cliff”: Republicans Attack Immigrants While Putting America In Danger

The House of Representatives’ Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill, which is really a law seeking the mass deportations of undocumented people, including children, died on the Senate floor, victim of arithmetic certainty.

Mathematical reality seems to be a challenge to the GOP House majority. While most Americans have heard about the 60-vote rule in the U.S. Senate that impacts most legislation — the cloture/filibuster, as it is commonly known — House Republicans insist in passing bills that cannot make that threshold, and are subsequently dismayed that their legislation dies an ignominious death.

Yet once again, and this would now seem to be par for the course for Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) House, Republicans have passed a bill that, with zero support of Senate Democrats, failed to meet the basic 60-vote threshold — three times.

It has been clear for some time that Democrats will not support the liquidation of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Moreover, should such a bill pass by some deus ex machina event, the president would veto it.

So why insist on passing a bill that cannot become law? One must assume that the potency of a quixotic quest to achieve the impossible is irresistible to many members of the Republican caucus in the House. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) seemed to insist that two plus two does not equal four when he told The Hill that “There’s not a Plan B, because this is the plan.”

In other words, after the mass deportation bill crashed and burned in the Senate, the House has no other plan, no other path forward to fund America’s shield from terrorism, Homeland Security.

Showing the triumph of ideology over logic, The Hill further reports that Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said before the Senate vote that: “[M]any of us agree that we should stand behind the one bill that we sent over there. Most of us feel that way. … Anything less than that, we’re not going to get any better result anyway. So why not just go for what’s really right?”

Of course, the obvious “better result” would be not to put America’s security at risk, and instead pass a clean DHS funding bill that would keep the nation safe. Immigration can always be tackled as a separate issue by the Republican-controlled Congress.

In fact, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) recently told me on my radio show that the House leadership has given immigration-reform Republicans encouragement to develop a set of sweeping immigration reform bills. So at least in the pro-arithmetic wing of the Republican Caucus, there is a reality-based path forward to deal with immigration without the perennial government shutdown threat — implicit in Scalise’s “not a Plan B” comment — that has become Republicans’ go-to tactic for forcing through their agenda when they fail to muster the votes necessary to pass legislation in both chambers.

It would be refreshing to see the big House Republican majority have as much passion for governing as they do for deportation. As Americans look at our society, polling clearly suggests that bread-and-butter issues dominate the agenda of the people. The economy, of course, and education, healthcare and the sense of economic insecurity that hangs like a shadow over most American families are the issues that should be tackled by a giant majority with ambitions to govern for more than two years.

I have yet to see one poll in which Americans rank mass deportations of undocumented immigrants as a top priority. Moreover, it’s hard to imagine that Americans favor such deportations over the continued funding and smooth operation of the country’s principal anti-terrorist agency, DHS.

Ironically, the party that has claimed the mantle of being the true fighters against a global jihadist threat is willing to drag-race off a political cliff to deport people rather than fund Homeland Security.

This is a choice that has both practical and symbolic resonance. The practical impact is obvious: Even one day, contrary to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s (R-Fla.) jaunty declaration otherwise, when DHS is not funded is one day too many. Republicans willfully weakening America’s national security would be irresponsible, bordering on seditious.

And the political and symbolic effects would also be notable. Will Americans easily forget that Republicans bet with their safety, indeed the safety of the nation, for the unachievable policy goals of deporting millions of people?

Perhaps we’re seeing here the inherent weakness of a Republican majority so divided among ideologies and passions that it is literally incapable of governing for the benefit of the nation.

At the very least, we are witness to the fact that even GOP leaders such as Rep. Scalise are a little weak on the universal truths of basic arithmetic.

 

By: Fernando Espuelas, Univision America Host; THe Blog, The Huffington Post, February 6, 2015

February 8, 2015 Posted by | Deportation, Immigration Reform, National Security | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cantor Struggles With Immigration Blame Game”: Killing Immigration Reform Without Getting Blamed For Killing Immigration Reform

Exactly one year ago yesterday, the Senate easily approved a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform package that would fix the nation’s broken status quo, boost the economy, and lower the deficit. The legislation was quickly endorsed by private-sector leaders, labor unions, faith-based leaders, law enforcement, and immigrant advocates.

President Obama marked the one-year anniversary of the Senate’s action by issuing a statement urging the Republican-led House to stop doing nothing. “Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform,” the president said, adding, “We have a chance to strengthen our country while upholding our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote.”

Obama then followed up with a phone call to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who apparently wasn’t pleased.

Cantor issued a blistering statement afterward, criticizing Obama for calling him just after delivering what he called “a partisan statement” that indicated “no desire to work together” on immigration, a top priority for Obama that House Republicans have largely ignored.

“After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done,” Cantor said in the statement. “You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue. I told the president the same thing I told him the last time we spoke. House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats’ immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House.”

For their part, White House officials seemed puzzled by Cantor’s outrage, saying the president and the Republican leader had a “pleasant call” in which Obama, among other things, extended Passover wishes to Cantor.

So what’s with the Majority Leader’s indignation? It appears Cantor hopes to kill immigration reform without actually getting blamed for killing immigration reform. Indeed, realizing the political risks associated with GOP lawmakers killing yet another popular, bipartisan bill, the Virginia Republican apparently hopes he can turn this around – Cantor wants to blame the death of reform on the president trying to pass reform over Cantor’s objections.

In other words, the Majority Leader has decided to play the blame game. Unfortunately for him and his party, he’s not playing it especially well.

Some of these policy debates can get complicated, but this one is surprisingly simple. House Republicans don’t want to vote on the popular, bipartisan immigration plan. House Republicans don’t want to vote on their own immigration ideas, either. House Republicans also aren’t open to legislative negotiations with House Democrats, Senate Democrats, or the White House.

House Republicans have made a series of demands as part of the immigration-reform process, which have been met, but instead of taking “yes” for an answer, GOP leaders still won’t consider action.

So how on Earth does Cantor expect to blame the president? Looking at the Majority Leader’s statement, note that he doesn’t suggest anything Obama said yesterday was factually incorrect, only that the president hurt Cantor’s feelings by being “partisan.”

Yes, House Republicans plan to go into the 2014 midterm elections by arguing that the demise of immigration reform can be attributed to one thing: Obama’s a big meanie.

Under the circumstances, it’s become increasingly difficult to take Cantor’s rhetoric on the issue seriously, but there are also policy implications to consider. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) told Greg Sargent yesterday, “I’m convinced that if we don’t get it done by the August break, the president, who is feeling a lot of pressure from having not done anything on immigration reform, will feel that he has to act through executive action.”

In other words, if House Republicans refuse to act, the White House may have no choice but to do what it can unilaterally. Indeed, Diaz-Balart added that Obama would have all the cover he needs to act on his own: “[Congressional failure] would give every excuse for the president to move forward on dealing with the undocumented while blaming Republicans for Congress’ inaction.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 17, 2014

 

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Eric Cantor, House Republicans, Immigration Reform | , , , | Leave a comment

“Clearly Moving Backwards”: For The GOP And Tea Partiers, It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

There was a certain irony to the timing. Yesterday, the House Republican leadership began a new outreach effort to leaders of the Latino community, trying to repair years of damage. And during their discussions, and assurances about the GOP’s sincerity, a far-right rally was underway on the national mall featuring anti-immigrant speeches from one Republican after another.

As Kate Nocera reported, Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) “was prepared to talk about immigration for six hours all by himself if he had to,” but it didn’t come to that.

But King didn’t have to talk by himself. Crowds showed up in droves. One member of Congress after another showed up to give speeches. The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector dropped by to talk about his widely criticized study that the Senate’s immigration bill would cost $6 trillion (though there was no criticism from this crowd).

For King the outpouring of support from Tea Party groups and likeminded members of Congress was proof that his efforts to stall, and hopefully kill, the Senate’s immigration bill in the House were working. If party leaders had hoped King would sit this fight out, by day’s end on Wednesday he had made it abundantly clear he wasn’t going anywhere. […]

“This bill is at its core amnesty,” King said to cheers. “We’re here to today … to take this debate outside the halls of Congress. If it’s not going to be good enough inside, we’ll take it outside!”

To help underscore the larger problem, consider the fact that Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) appeared at the event, spoke briefly in Spanish, and was heckled.

It’s true that immigration wasn’t the only subject discussed yesterday — the legion of far-right lawmakers were also eager to talk about the IRS. Imagine that.

But the point of the gathering was to condemn the bipartisan immigration legislation pending in the Senate: “Protesters wore T-shirts emblazoned with American flags and tea party slogans, and they waved homemade signs that read, ‘John Boehner: no amnesty, get a backbone,’ ‘Boehner: go home,’ ‘exporting illegals = importing jobs for Americans, stop socialism,’ and ‘if we lose rule of law we become Mexico.'”

And for a moment, if you lost track of the calendar, you might even think it was 2010, which isn’t exactly the Republican Party’s goal right now.

Indeed, consider yesterday’s event in the larger context: what have Republicans shown the nation lately? There was a Tea Party rally this week, which followed a big fight over an anti-abortion bill that can’t pass. In the states, we see a focus on culture-war issues, including state-mandated, medically-unnecessary ultrasounds. On Capitol Hill, most Republican lawmakers are running around talking about “amnesty” and “illegals,” which is every bit as insulting as their rhetoric about women.

Yesterday, we even heard talk about “takers,” as if the “47 percent” video never happened.

And on the horizon, many in the GOP are already planning another debt-ceiling crisis.

I argued a week ago that the Republican Party’s “rebranding” effort had gone off the rails, but in retrospect, I probably understated matters. Party leaders hoped to apply some lessons from 2012 and move the party forward, but half-way through 2013, it’s clear Republicans are moving backwards.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 20, 2013

June 21, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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