In an attempt to circumvent House Republican leadership, who have refused to advance pro-immigration legislation through regular order, Democrats in the House of Representatives are set to file a discharge petition on HR 15 this week. For House Republicans, like Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), seeking to curry favor with Colorado’s Latino voters ahead of the 2014 elections, the discharge petition is the last chance to demonstrate that they are serious about doing everything in their power to pass immigration reform, rather than coddling House leaders who have so far failed to act.
The Steve King wing of the Republican Party is an obvious problem for the GOP. Just this past weekend, King again showed his anti-Latino animus when he questioned the fairness and “legality” of giving scholarships to Latino students. King is not only “leading” House Republican’s rhetoric on immigration, he is also driving their legislative strategy. Between King’s amendment last year to deport DREAMers and others, and the passage of related bills this year, the King contingent is the only faction of the House GOP that has been granted a vote on immigration by House leadership.
This leaves Rep. Gardner, twisting in the wind. But instead of challenging his leadership to silence King and move forward on a proactive strategy, he too is toeing the Party line. For example, Rep. Gardner voted with King and company on their most recent immigration bills. Even when his own party came up with immigration principles in January, Rep. Gardner opposed those, too. This posture is particularly puzzling given the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that HR 15 would reduce the deficit by $900 billion over the next two decades, including $200 billion in the first decade alone. So much for Republicans’ obsession with saving tax dollars.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “It’s now or never for Rep. Cory Gardner. If the House GOP continues to block reform and decry efforts such as the discharge petition, the window of opportunity to get right on this issue and with key voting groups will shut – forever. If they continue on this self-defeating trajectory, House Republicans will get exactly what they don’t want: President Obama stepping in to take bold executive action, and Republican inaction on immigration reform this year going down as an historic blunder that cements the Party’s reputation as anti-Latino, anti-Asian American and anti-immigrant for a generation.”
“Republicans can try to blame the President for the lack of progress on legislation, but their response to the discharge petition makes it clear that the obstacle to legislation is with them,” Sharry concluded.