“I don’t think you’d find…even a small number of Republicans voting for any kind of bill that has amnesty first and enforcement second”
posted at 12:46 pm on June 18, 2013 by Guy Benson
I interviewed Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday evening. He shared his thoughts on Speaker Boehner’s reported allegiance to the so-called ‘Hastert rule’ on immigration reform:
GB: Congressman, let’s start with a report today in the Washington Examiner. We’ve been talking about it throughout the program. David Drucker, who’s just made the jump over from Roll Call, reports that sources close to the Speaker’s office who understand what the machinations are inside the Speaker’s strategy moving forward, they say there is ‘no chance’ that Speaker Boehner will allow a comprehensive immigration reform bill, such as whatever emerges from the Senate, be it the Gang of 8 or what have you, he will not allow that to come to the floor of the House unless he knows that a majority of the Republican majority conference backs whatever the bill is going to be. Meaning he’s going to stand by the Hastert rule, which he has jettisoned on a number of occasions over the last year or so. Your reaction to those reports?
TC: Those reports, if true, reflect, in my opinion, Speaker Boehner simply reflecting the will of the House Republican Caucus. I don’t think you’d find a majority of support, even a small number of Republicans, voting for any kind of bill that has amnesty first and enforcement second…maybe. So I am not surprised by the report. I suspect it probably is correct, and it also reflects the Speaker’s oft-stated desire that the House will move forward trying to fix our broken immigration system on areas where we have bipartisan agreements. It’s just border security or improved E-verify programs or improved entry/exit visa programs, that those areas should not be held hostage towards a massive, complicated bill like what’s moving through the Senate right now.
GB: All right, Congressman, let me circle back to what you just said, because you said you don’t think that even close to a majority of your caucus, the Republicans in the House, would be able to support or vote for any plan that would put the legalization element first, and then enforcement second — which is exactly what the Gang of 8 bill spells out. Are you saying that even if some measures are beefed up on the Senate side, if that basic one-two timetable sort of remains in place, it is dead on arrival in the House?
TC: That is my belief, Guy. Now in my short time in Congress, I have found myself wrong in my predictions about what the House would or would not do, but I believe that most House Republicans feel strongly that the basic problem with our immigration system is a failure of enforcement, and that’s not just border security, but internal enforcement through employment verification measures and visa problems and so forth. It’s partly with our, the way we grant visas for legal, permanent residents. You know, it’s focuses less on what it should be, which is skills and jobs and training. And you know, this is reflected by some senators as well. Ted Cruz has said repeatedly in the Judiciary Committee, and now on the Senate floor, that he wants common sense immigration reform to pass, as I think we all do. But the difference between a flawed status quo and an even worse proposed bill means that you should stick with the better of the two outcomes, which would be the flawed status quo than a bill that makes the situation worse.
My analysis of the implications of Cotton’s answer — and what Democrats may be up to — is here.