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Who is “King” of the House Republicans?

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On the Sunday shows, Boehner’s Lack of Leadership Leaves Steve King As the Defining Voice of the Caucus

Judging by this weekend’s Sunday shows, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is now “the man” when it comes to House Republicans stating a clear position on immigration policy.

On the popular Sunday show called “Al Punto,” hosted by the influential Univisión anchor Jorge Ramos, Steve King brought his hard line views and distinctive style.  He was combative, refused to acknowledge his past comments comparing immigrants to dogs , he opposed giving Dreamers a path to citizenship and brazenly said, “It isn’t my responsibility to solve that problem…American citizens and legal Americans do not have a moral obligation to solve the problem of the 11 million people that are here unlawfully.”

At about the same time, House Republican Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” with Bob Schieffer.  As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post highlighted:

Asked repeatedly by Schieffer if he would allow a bill to come to a vote that provides a path to citizenship, Boehner hemmed and hawed a bit, but finally replied:  ‘This is about bringing these bills out here in a commonsense way.  And I’m not going to predict what’s going to be on the floor and what isn’t going to be on the floor.  Now that’s what you’re asking me to do. I can’t do that, and I don’t want to do that.  My job in this process is to facilitate a discussion, and to facilitate a process so the American people can see what we’re doing and so the members understand that we’re dealing with this in a deliberative way.’

As Sargent assessed:

The House Speaker is in control of whether immigration reform happens or whether it dies.  And in the exchange, Boehner actually seemed to suggest he is not in control over what gets a vote in the end…Yes, ‘facilitating discussion’ is part of the Speaker’s job.  But so is deciding what gets a vote and what doesn’t.  So is leading… Predictions that immigration reform is dead help Boehner by removing the focus from the fact that in reality, he remains in control of whether it is dies or not.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

It is time for Boehner to step up and lead his caucus, his chamber, his Party and his country.  The simple fact is that the votes for a bipartisan immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship exist today.  All the Speaker has to do is allow this majority to express its will.  But if Boehner refuses to lead and lets his caucus and Party be defined by Steve King, the GOP will squander an opportunity to get credit for solving a tough problem and may well be headed the way of the Whigs.