House GOP Whip Eric Cantor
House GOP Whip Eric Cantor

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Many House Republicans are angry at their party's leadership for failing to force Democrats to vote on immigration verification amendments during the weekend's passage of the health care reform bill. Both sides of the aisle were prepping for a procedural move by the Republicans to force a vote, but in the end, the GOP chose tort reform over immigration.

Just before the final vote on Saturday night, GOP House Whip Eric Cantor motioned to send the health care bill back to committee with instructions to add language requiring tort reform. Many Republicans were hoping the leadership's instructions would be over immigration, which is a much more devisive issue with the Democrats. Had the leadership included immigration instructions instead, the vote to recommit the bill may have been more narrow, if not accepted.

"If we had done that right, the bill would have been extremely unlikely [to pass], if we’d brought up the illegal immigration motion to recommit," said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), ranking member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, in an article published by Roll Call. "That would have been the coup de grace. It would have killed the bill."

Even though Rep. King believes the motion to recommit with immigration verification instructions would have passed, GOP leaders say they chose tort reform to force the Democrats to choose between trial lawyers and senior citizens, which may help them gain seats in the 2010 midterm elections.

Both conservative and rank-and-file Republicans questioned the move by the leadership.

"Whoever thought this was a good motion to recommit is a freaking moron, and we will be in the minority forever because of stuff like this," a Republican aide said. "They are fools, pure and simple. ... Our leadership dropped the ball."

For more information, see Roll Call.

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