Even before Speaker Boehner and other leaders formally unveil their immigration principles at the House Republican retreat, several members of the influential Republican Study Committee have said there is a growing consensus of Members who believe that it is a bad idea to consider immigration on the House floor this year. Not having the support of the Republican Study Committee, which is comprised of over 160 conservative Republicans, could damage Boehner’s efforts to move piecemeal legislation in 2014.
House Republicans begin a three-day retreat today where leadership will discuss its draft immigration principles. This morning, Rep. Paul Ryan confirmed those principles would offer illegal aliens “probationary” work permits before new border and interior enforcement measures are put in place. They also are expected to call for adding more high tech visas and expanding guest worker programs.
However, the members and staff of the Republican Study Committee met yesterday to discuss several issues in advance of the retreat, including immigration. According to a report by McClatchy News Service, several members at that meeting said that an explosive debate on immigration could wipe out Republican political gains over Obama’s healthcare plan and threaten chances to take over the U.S. Senate.
According to Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, about eight or nine members spoke out against Boehner’s plan. Some mentioned the recent conservative editorials that weighed in against movement on immigration this year. “If one were to listen to that discussion, they could easily conclude there was solid consensus that debating immigration this year is a bad idea,” King said. “A very solid consensus in that room.”
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said some Republicans are concerned about getting steamrolled in immigration-bill conference committees in the same manner as the farm bill. He said that when the farm bill came back from conference with the Senate, several provisions important to House Republicans were removed. “It was something Republicans, not just conservatives, could have hung their hat on. We could have accepted a lot of crap if we preserved (it.),” Mulvaney said. “If the new normal is going to be that we pass really good House bills but get killed in conference, I think it does raise legitimate questions about whether or not we should go to conference” on immigration.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., said the end result on the farm bill is giving him pause about moving ahead on immigration. “It’s difficult to trust the process going forward when you’re going to get something back that you had no expectation of coming back,” he said “The farm bill’s done quite a bit of damage in terms of moving forward on other issues, just how it’s all played out.”
Rep. Steve Daines, who is running for an open Senate seat in Montana, said “The concern for many of us is the increasing lack of trust in this president enforcing the law. We have a president who is not enforcing existing law.”
Republican Policy Committee chairman James Lankford, R-Okla. reportedly spoke out against pursuing immigration this year at yesterday’s meeting. Lankford, who is the fifth ranking House Republican and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said in a post State of the Union interview that opposition is strong against a large-scale plan that would legalize illegal aliens. He said Republicans are concerned that the president cannot be trusted to address the enforcement side of any immigration deal. “I do think we should reform immigration, this is a very serious issue, but this has all the appearance of just being a political game instead of solving a problem,” Lankford said.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., did not know if the Committee would take an official position on the immigration, but said, “I do know that a critical mass of members will declare an all out war on this subject. We won’t let it go.”
Updated: Wed, Jan 29th 2014 @ 9:34pm EST