Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Empty Rhetoric & Radio Silence

Yesterday, something interesting happened... But does Senator Dean Heller (R-46%) want us to notice? He held an "immigration reform forum", but he didn't want to talk to anyone at PLAN about comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). He may be seeing this, but he may actually be fearing this.

We've been warning for some time about the 21st Century Know Nothing campaign to kill CIR. Now, we're starting to see real money back up the hateful rhetoric. And not only that, but they've even been developing a "scandalous" strategy to destroy the bill.

And of course, it all comes back to this. The G-O-TEA run House has always looked challenging. We've been reminded of this lately, even as the Senate CIR bill moves forward. So yes, there's still the matter of that danged House.

In a sign that immigration reform still faces steep odds in the House, Reuters reports that a significant number of House Republicans are still not convinced that an immigration bill would help GOP outreach to Latino voters. Reuters quotes one representative, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, capturing the mood of many of his colleagues this way: “There is no evidence to support this idea that Republicans will pick up a lot of votes if we give amnesty to 11 million folks.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama sees “amnesty” as a slippery slope. “We can’t afford to give amnesty to every person who wants to illegally cross our borders,” he said. “We don’t have enough money in our piggy bank. Amnesty begets more amnesty.”

In other words, now that the bipartisan Senate gang of eight’s immigration reform compromise has cleared the Judiciary Committee and made its way to the Senate floor, making it more likely that it will pass the Senate, there’s still the very real possibility that reform will die in the House of Representatives. There, the numbers are not in their favor. House Republicans have long voiced their opposition to a comprehensive bill.

That the immigration bill has a long and difficult path to citizenship — thirteen years, with a sizable list of fees and requirements — doesn’t factor into this opposition. The mere fact that some unauthorized immigrants could receive citizenship at some point in the future is enough to inspire opposition. And among House Republicans, this opposition is fairly broad-based; as we saw with the fights over the debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff, and the sequester, Tea Party Republicans have a tight grip on the direction of the chamber.

And yes, we're still waiting for Reps. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) and Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) to weigh in on either the Senate and/or the House CIR framework. And at this point, they and Senator Heller probably prefer not to deal with this issue at all.

After all, there's now a widening wedge between the Republican establishment's desire for political survival and the "tea party" demand for ideological "purity". On one hand, "old school" paleo-conservative Republican establishmentarians continue warning their party of the peril they face if they don't change.

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Yet on the other hand, the 21st Century Know Nothings are even violating "The 11th Commandment" and resorting to outright racism to kill the bill. Guess who's gaining more traction with the bulk of Congressional Republicans?

And that brings us back to Senator Heller's "immigration reform forum" yesterday. He keeps asking for a "bipartisan solution" and follows that request with more empty rhetoric. So what happens when one finally arrives? Radio silence, that's what.

So will Senator Heller finally embrace the "bipartisan solution" he's been asking for all along? Or will the "tea party" ultimately (again) be too much for him to resist? How much do you want to read into his empty rhetoric and radio silence?

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