Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is now officially the Majority Leader, but slightly less well-known is Steve Scalise (R-LA), the new Majority Whip. Scalise has been in Congress since 2008 and skews Tea Party obstructionist — he has led the Republican Study Group, a band of policy conservatives, since 2012. He voted against the debt ceiling increase and supported last fall’s government shutdown. And his extremism appears to extend to immigration reform. Here’s what we know about Scalise on the issue:
- He has a career “A’ grade from NumbersUSA, a restrictionist group.
- He’s for border security first, i.e. taking no action on immigration reform until border security meets some undefined status. (A majority of Americans believe that immigration reform should focus on legalizing those already here, rather than throwing more money at the border.)
- Like many Republicans, he uses President Obama and his supposed lack of respect for the law as an excuse for not passing reform.
- He has called the Senate immigration bill a “nonstarter” in the House, saying it does nothing to secure the border (S. 744 would in fact have dedicated some $46 billion toward border security).
- He once voted to end birthright citizenship, which is enshrined in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
- He wants to make English the official language.
As the Whip, of course, Scalise will be responsible for helping to lead the whole House, not just the Tea Partiers he most aligns with. Like John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy, Scalise will also now be responsible for finding a way to get the House to pass immigration reform. Time is running out, and the future of the GOP depends on Republicans deciding whether the House will move on immigration reform.