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GOP Prepares to Vote on Immigration Legislation: No, Not on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, But on Ted Yoho’s Mass Deportation Bill

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With Congress back in session after the mid-terms, Republican leadership has been talking about the need for the GOP to engage in responsible governance.  But with hardliners in the Senate and the House–from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Michelle Bachmann(R-MN)–demanding a shutdown showdown over immigration, that whole “responsible governance” thing is going up in smoke.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the House GOP were hoping that their members, angry at President Obama for stepping up and taking executive action on immigration, would be placated by a bill drafted by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) that would prevent executive action on immigration and put just about all 11 million undocumented immigrants in America at risk of deportation.  This after more than a year and a half of refusing to allow a vote on a popular immigration reform overhaul package that has enough votes to pass the House.  As the Washington Post explains, Speaker Boehner “would first allow a vote this week on a bill to ban Obama from changing immigration laws.  The largely symbolic legislation would be quickly discarded by the Democratic-controlled Senate, but the vote would be seen as a victory by some tea party conservatives.” 

The second part of Boehner’s immigration response involved funding the federal government through next fall, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and immigration agencies, which would only be funded through early 2015, at which point Republicans would stage yet another fight over immigration against the backdrop of a manufactured government funding crisis.  

Yet the hardcore anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party – which has been the tail wagging the GOP dog for years – is not satisfied with the idea of a vote against the President now followed by a showdown in March.  They want the showdown now, even if it means a government shutdown (read this Politico recap of how the “Hell No” wing of the GOP is calling for more).  Additionally, Reps. Steve King, Michele Bachman, and Sen. Ted Cruz are holding a rally today in Washington, DC against executive action – an event that undoubtedly will demonstrate the Republican Party’s sober and serious approach to responsible governance and pragmatic immigration policy (not really).

And all of this follows a day in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives engaged in their first organized responses to President Obama’s lawful use of executive action on immigration with two hearings in the House.  The GOP attack was so weak that by the end of the day that the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank declared, “Obama Has Already Won the Immigration Fight.”

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

Here’s an idea for Speaker Boehner and the Republican Party: bring up comprehensive immigration reform in the House, and do what 75% of the American people and a majority of House members want – pass the bill.