Steve King has had a busy fall. He has been spearheading the effort to block any immigration reform bill from moving in the U.S House (despite little back up from his ever-shrinking anti-immigrant allies.) Now King and his band of fellow extremists, including Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann, have also shut down the federal government and appear willing to let the United States default on the nation’s debt later this month. As our colleague Maribel Hastings noted in her column, Dear Republicans: when you’re in a hole, stop digging, “The group of extremist Republicans driving the House caucus now is the same one that has controlled the party’s messaging and strategy on immigration for years.”
Latest polling indicates they are also doing enormous damage to the GOP – to the point of putting the House in play in 2014. From Maribel Hastings:
Democrats need to win 17 seats to regain a House majority (the chamber currently seats 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats). The polls found that in 17 competitive districts, incumbent Republicans could lose their seats. In an additional four districts, incumbent Republicans lost the support of a majority of voters after voters were told that their representative supported the government shutdown.
Huffington Post provided a district breakdown:
For Democrats to win a House majority, 17 seats would need to switch to their party’s favor. Results show that would be within reach, as Republican incumbents are behind in 17 of the districts analyzed: CA-31, CO-06, FL-02, FL-10, FL-13, IA-03, IA-04, IL-13, KY-06, MI-01, MI-07, MI-11, NY-19, OH-14, PA-07, PA-08, WI-07. In four districts, the incumbent Republican fell behind after respondents were told their representative supported the government shutdown: CA-10, NY-11, NY-23, VA-02. Three districts saw GOP incumbents maintain their hold over their Democratic challengers, even after hearing their elected officials’ views on the shutdown, including CA-21, NV-03 and OH-06.
The members who are vulnerable over the shutdown also face risk over immigration. Over the summer, Latino Decisions identified “identified 44 GOP-held House seats in which Latino voters could influence the outcome of elections in 2014 and beyond.” Turns out, there is substantial overlap between the districts polled by PPP and the Latino Decisions districts. Ten of the 17 districts that showed vulnerability for Republicans in the PPP polls are also on the Latino Decisions list of 44: Miller (CA-31), Coffman (CO-6), Southerland (FL-02), Webster (FL-10), Young (FL-13), Latham ( IA-03), Davis ( IL-13), Benishek (MI-01), Grimm (NY -11) and Gibson (NY-19). The three other districts from the PPP group that show the Republicans ahead for now – Valadao ( CA-21), Heck (NV-03) and Johnson (OH-06) – are also on the LD list. As noted, the Democrats need to pick up 17 seats to take control of the House. It’s important to remember that the Latino Decisions list has 27 additional Republicans who could face election problems if the GOP doesn’t advance immigration reform that includes a real path to citizenship.
Maribel Hastings provided the political context for Republicans and immigration:
Now that their image is damaged as a result of the fiscal mess, immigration reform offers a road to rehabilitation that Republicans would be fools to waste.
There is a majority of votes to pass a resolution to fund the budget that is clean of conditions related to Obamacare, just like there is a simple 218-vote majority in the House to pass immigration reform. The bill introduced by Democrats last week could serve as a starting point.
Both parties need some sort of legislative accomplishment to show the American people before the 2014 midterm elections.
As thousands of Americans from all walks of life demanded over the weekend, it’s time for the House to set aside the circus of the permanent campaign and allow a debate, and a vote, on immigration reform. It would pass. A majority of the votes would come from Democrats, but a few would come from the small group of Republicans who are interested in lifting their party out of the hole it keeps digging itself deeper into, with Boehner in the lead and the extremists holding the shovel.
It is time. And, there will be consequences – or rewards – depending on what happens.