House Republicans have openly acknowledged that short-term political considerations are the main reason for their inaction on immigration reform. They seem intent on avoiding “intraparty drama” ahead of the 2014 midterm elections in the interest of unity and base turnout. Not only is this politically myopic, but it leads to House Republicans invoking weak excuses for their decision to date to punt on reform.
Given leadership’s apparent unwillingness to move forward at this point, what should House Republicans reformers do? They should start pressuring leadership – publicly and aggressively – to bring reform to the House floor this spring. Unfortunately, they seem content to rely on a strategy of “I’m for reform and think we should do it this year, but beyond stating that I’m not going to push leadership on it.” Seung Min Kim of Politico reports that three leading pro-reform Republicans – Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) – are saying they won’t sign onto a “discharge petition” to force action on legislation.
Moreover, some of these pro-reform members are engaged in a classic case of the “pot calling the kettle black.” When asked if he’d sign on, Rep. David Valadao said, “No, there’s just no way…To play politics that way is not the way to get something this serious done.” A story in the Journal News of Westchester County, NY examined the six Republican members of New York’s congressional delegation – each of whom is a pro-immigration reform Republican. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) called the discharge petition “a political gimmick,” then said, “But I do support immigration reform. I think our immigration system is completely broken and we have to fix it.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Saying you’re for reform but refusing to push your leadership to take it up is rank hypocrisy. You’d think pro-reform Republicans would do everything possible to compel action this year. You’d also think it would be difficult to make accusations of ‘political gamesmanship’ with a straight face when your caucus is openly admitting that political gamesmanship is the very reason you seem to have decided to punt on immigration reform. Here’s a question for pro-reform Republicans, then: if you don’t plan to sign onto the discharge petition, what are your plans to pressure your leadership so they bring up immigration reform this year? After all, your constituents overwhelmingly support it. ‘Wait ‘til next year’ just won’t cut it.
- Read the America’s Voice memo highlighting district-specific polling in 25 different Republican-held congressional districts, and demonstrating overwhelming support for immigration reform.