It should not surprise anyone, but the Tea Party has united against immigration reform. It released a letter Tuesday strongly opposing the Senate’s Gang of immigration bill. In addition to opposing the bill, the letter demands members vote against all procedural measures that would allow the bill to even come up for a vote.
A group of 150 Tea Party members and friends signed the letter including former Rep. Allen West, Republican of Florida, RedState.com editor Erick Erickson, and Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots. The letter is also signed by conservative and tea party leaders from more than 25 states – spanning from California to Iowa to Alabama to New Hampshire.
The Tea Party letter listed several complaints against the legislation:
• Is bloated and unwieldy along the lines of Obamacare or Dodd-Frank;
• Cedes excessive control over immigration law to an administration that has
repeatedly proven itself to be untrustworthy, even duplicitous;
• Legalizes millions of illegal immigrants before securing the borders, thus
ensuring future illegal immigration;
• Rewards law breakers and punishes law enforcement, undermining the rule of
• Hurts American job-seekers, especially those with less education;
• Threatens to bankrupt our already strained entitlement system;
• Expands government by creating new bureaucracies, authorizing new spending,
and calling for endless regulations;
• Contains dangerous loopholes that threaten national security;
• Is shot through with earmarks for politically connected interest groups;
• Overwhelms our immigration bureaucracy, guaranteeing widespread fraud
Tea Party opposition is intended to put pressure on Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fl, who is a member of the Gang of 8. Rubio is plans to run for president in 2016 and needs Tea Party support particularly because fellow Tea Partier Rand Paul is also running. The appearance of former Tea Party Congressman and Fox News commentator Allen West sends a message to Rubio.
Rubio needs the Tea Party for his presidential bid, but he also needs the regular party because he and Rand Paul will split the Tea Party vote. Republicans believe they need to pass immigration reform to win back Hispanic voters and Rubio is supposed to deliver conservative Republican support for the bill. So Rubio is in a box with this latest Tea Party move.
There is no surprise that the Tea Party would oppose immigration reform, but their opposition to allowing the bill to come up for a vote is the most dangerous in the Senate. It takes 60 votes out of 100 in the Senate to allow a bill to be debated. That means at least 6 Republicans would need to vote with Democrats.
Tea Party opposition is just one more problem immigration reform faces in the House. The House version of the bill has a poison pill embedded in it. If that can not be amended out, it faces Democratic opposition.
That provision was agreed to by the bipartisan House group in principle last week. It prevents the government from paying for the health care of the 11 million undocumented immigrants on the so-called “pathway to citizenship” meaning that they could not participate in Obamacare.
According to POLITICO House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer D-MD, say that language is unacceptable and believe the House immigration group had overstepped its bounds. Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-CA, a member of the bipartisan group, is voicing the most vocal concern, according to multiple lawmakers and aides involved.
Meanwhile, Senator Leahy Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he will allow additional time for mark-up on the Gang of 8 Bill.
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