If there’s one member of Congress who exemplifies the House GOP identity as the “Party of No,” it’s probably Rep. Steve King (R-IA). This week, he’s in the news for being one of the most intractable House Republicans on the government shutdown, one of the few who still think they can force a setback on Obamacare. And all year, he’s been the driving force behind the House GOP position on immigration, and the main reason for their inaction.
Today, Fawn Johnson at National Journal has a profile on King and his opposition to everything on immigration. “There’s no telling when an immigration bill will come to the House floor, what it will say, or who will support it,” Johnson writes. “Only one thing’s for sure: Steve King will vote no.”
King isn’t interested in solving problems or addressing a broken immigration system that separates families. He’s just against any legislation that could possibly help bring 11 million people out of the shadows. It doesn’t even matter if that opposition leads him to stand against things that he otherwise would support, things that are good for the country. Immigration reform would strengthen border security, mandate E-Verify, install an entry/exit visa tracking system, and give the US a better idea of who is in the country. But Steve King is against all those improvements, because he’s against any and all shapes of immigration reform.
He’s not alone, though the support behind him is dwindling. The House used to contain similar anti-immigrant blowhards like Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Dan Lungren (R-CA), and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA). All of the latter have been since been voted out, and even Steve King faced his most competitive reelection effort in years last November. Currently in the House, there are an estimated two dozen or so members joining King in the “hell no to everything” caucus.
And Speaker Boehner is letting them lead. Boehner has stonewalled immigration reform all year, refusing to allow a vote even though there are more than enough House members to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Boehner has failed to lead on immigration reform, even though he reportedly wants to pass legislation and knows that the future of the GOP is doomed without it. Yet the only House-wide vote on immigration that Boehner has allowed this year has been a vote on Steve King’s amendment from June to deport DREAMers.
It’s bad enough that King and his hell-no caucus are blindly opposing everything under consideration on immigration reform. It’s even worse that John Boehner is giving them a voice.