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“Trying Every Trick In The Book”: Republicans Stop At Nothing To Attack Immigrants

On March 3, the House of Representatives finally voted for a clean DHS funding bill. Much of the media reported that Republicans saw the irresponsibility of their threats to shut down Homeland Security and passed a clean bill. But they didn’t, and no one should lose sight of that.

After trying every trick in the book to scuttle the bill, their leadership allowed the vote to happen, but Republicans never caved. Republicans voted over two to one (167-75) against the bill. It only passed because of full Democratic support.

It’s clear that Republicans will stop at nothing to attack immigrants. The fact that national security was on the line was immaterial: Republicans saw an opportunity to display their animus toward all immigrants, and Latinos in particular, and they took it.

This publicity stunt gave Republicans the chance to pander yet again to the most virulent anti-immigrant members of their party. Take, for instance, William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration and his comments during the heat of the DHS fight in mid-February:

[I] wouldn’t put anything past [the administration, because] the people who are supporting the organized and well-funded illegal alien invasion of our homeland have the blood of many thousands of Americans on their hands that have been killed, injured raped and robbed by illegal immigrants.

Sure, Gheen is a fringe extremist. But what he’s saying is strikingly similar to what we’re hearing from the Republican Party.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” strategy, entertained the suggestion that Obama’s executive actions could eventually result in Latinos conducting an “ethnic cleansing” of their fellow Americans. Sen. Tom Coburn, Rep. Mike Kelly, and Rep. Louie Gohmert have also warned that the president’s immigration policies could lead to violence.

While some in the GOP tried to tell a different narrative — that this was just about reining in presidential excess and not about their being anti-immigrant — the fact is that the entire Republican Party is at fault. Not one House Republican signed the discharge petition to allow even a vote on the Senate’s bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill. And Senate Republicans who backed that bill, including Sen. Marco Rubio, now say they no longer support it. At this very minute, House Republicans are bringing up even more anti-immigrant legislation, including deportation-only legislation and a bill that would drastically change U.S. asylum and humanitarian protections to put domestic violence survivors and victims of human trafficking at serious risk.

Ultimately, it was Ann Coulter who summed up the Republican position on the DHS debate: Undocumented immigrants (she calls them “illegal aliens [who] have killed, raped and maimed thousands of Americans”) pose a greater threat to our nation than does ISIS.” While not all Republicans used language as biting as that, it was crystal-clear that Republicans believe that attacking immigrants, not funding DHS, should be the top priority.

Who would have imagined that a national party, never mind the Republican Party, would be so opposed to finding any solution for the almost 12 million undocumented people already here that they would risk our national security during the dangerous time we are in now? Yet that’s the reality of the GOP today, and it’s our responsibility to hold them accountable.

 

By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For the American Way, The Blog, The Huffington Post, March 6, 2015

March 8, 2015 Posted by | Immigrants, National Security, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Don’t Bother Us With Governing”: With Caucus-Wide Sentiment, House GOP Pushes Distractions Over Policy

At the start of every Congress, the leadership of both chambers generally set aside bill numbers as a way of designating their biggest priorities. The House Republican majority, for example, will set aside H.R. 1 through H.R. 10 for their top 10 most important bills – the ones they’re most eager to pass.

And in this Congress, H.R. 1 has nothing to do with immigration, health care, energy, or security. Rather, it’s tax reform.

For the last several months, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has been quietly meeting with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on a major overhaul of the federal tax code – the first in a generation. It’s no easy task, and Camp has made clear he considers this the most important project of his political career.

The general proposition is pretty straightforward: if Congress eliminates unnecessary deductions, closes loopholes, and scraps superfluous tax giveaways, the result will be a simpler, streamlined tax code that produces more revenue. The benefit would mean more deficit reduction, lower rates overall, or both. The trouble, of course, is that those deductions, loopholes, and giveaways have their champions and they’re hard to get rid of, compounded by the fact that Democrats and Republicans disagree on what to do with the new revenue.

But that’s not the only trouble. Brian Faler had a report this morning on an angle I hadn’t considered.

[Some of Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s] fellow Republicans now don’t want him to release his long-awaited tax reform bill for fear it will allow Democrats to change the subject. They want the public’s focus on people who have lost their health insurance and those having trouble signing up at healthcare.gov, and not on what will surely be a controversial tax-reform bill.

It’s a cruel bit of timing for Camp, who’s spent three years, almost since the day Republicans took control of the House, trying to build support for the first tax overhaul in a generation. He’s repeatedly promised his panel would take up legislation this year, and if it doesn’t soon, Camp – who faces term-limit restrictions on his chairmanship – may never get the chance.

Got that? Camp believes he’s finally made progress on H.R. 1 – ostensibly the one thing House Republicans actually want to pass in this Congress – and he’s eager to move forward. Camp, however, is effectively hearing from his own allies, “Don’t bother us with that now; we’re too busy raising a fuss about health care.”

Indeed, the Politico report added that lobbyists involved with the process believe House GOP leaders will “pressure Camp to pull the plug” on his tax-reform measure.

This reminds me a bit of a story from March, when Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) said he wanted to tackle legislation regarding loan guarantees to clean-energy companies, but he dropped the legislation because “he chose to focus more” on Benghazi and Fast and Furious.

In other words, the congressman had a policy priority, but it was abandoned – a partisan crusade got in the way.

Seven months later, it seems Camp is running into a similar issue. He wants to follow through on years of work on tax reform – for the record, I have a hunch I won’t care for his plan – but his effort is getting in the way of Republicans’ anti-healthcare fun.

And since it’s a post-policy party, the conflict between governing and gamesmanship isn’t much of a contest, at least with the House GOP majority.

Don’t forget, just last week Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) boasted that the House Republicans’ top priority should be “messaging,” not problem solving. As Dave Camp is apparently realizing, this is a caucus-wide sentiment.

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 13, 2013

November 14, 2013 Posted by | Congress, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Priority Deficit Disorder”: When Congressional Republicans’ Homework And Playtime Are At Odds

Back in March, just two months into the new Congress, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) conceded that he had a small problem. He’d been assigned the task of working on loan guarantees for clean-energy companies, and was supposed to write legislation. But that never happened — Kelly got distracted.

His spokesperson said at the time, “It was a priority, and it remains an issue of interest. But Mike’s efforts shifted when he chose to focus more on holding the administration accountable with regards to Fast and Furious. And then when the Benghazi tragedy occurred, that took the cake.”

In other words, there was real work to do, but the Pennsylvania Republican couldn’t get to it because he decided made-up political “scandals” were a better use of his time.

Six months later, those attitudes continue to dominate the House GOP’s thinking.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are acknowledging that the fall’s looming fiscal fights could peel attention away from their investigation into the IRS’s singling out of conservative groups. […]

But Republicans have also made the IRS investigation a key part of their recent political message, at a time when the agency is trying to implement the Democratic healthcare law that conservatives are itching to defund. The controversy has also helped revive a Tea Party movement that had been flagging in recent months.

With all that in mind, GOP aides stress that the congressional investigation into the IRS will be moving full speed ahead, even as a potential debt default takes up much of the oxygen in the halls of Congress.

This will, by the way, include even more hearings into the discredited controversy.

John Feehery, a GOP strategist, told The Hill that Republicans “have to make the connection” between the non-existent IRS story and the Affordable Care Act “because it’s so hot right now.”

Oh for crying out loud.

Look, the House of Representatives is in session only nine days this month. Nine. Congress just took a four-week break, but the Republican-led lower chamber apparently wants to ease back into their work schedule.

On the to-do list? A budget crisis, a debt-ceiling crisis, a farm bill, immigration reform, appropriations bills, and fixing the Voting Rights Act. It’s simply unrealistic to think the dysfunctional House will complete all of these tasks, or even most of them, anytime soon, though a couple of these are non-optional.

But despite all of this work that remains undone, much of which should have been completed before the August recess, House GOP leaders are still eager to invest time and energy in a “scandal” that no longer makes any sense. Why? Apparently because it’s “so hot right now.”

It reminds me a lot of a child who prioritizes playtime over homework. Sure, the homework is important, but it’s not nearly as fun or satisfying as playing — so the child decides some of the homework just won’t get done.

Republicans remain a post-policy party. They have real work to do, which they will neglect because their shiny plaything has a firm grip on their limited attention span.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 3, 2013

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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