The supposedly routine reelection of House Speaker John Boehner is becoming a dramatic repeat of the GOP’s December split over immigration, where the party’s populist base was jammed by the business-backed leadership.
By mid-Monday, at least 10 defectors said they will vote against Boehner for speaker. A new poll was released showing overwhelming opposition to GOP leaders funding President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. And the House switchboard was jammed by Republicans who are urging their members to vote against Boehner.
The Daily Caller was on hold for 25 minutes, but the switchboard operator did not answer the phone.
Boehner needs to win 218 votes in the Tuesday ballot, which is scheduled for midday.
If Boehner does not win 218 votes from the 246-member GOP caucus, his critics hope it will attract new Republican candidates for his job. If that were to happen, the process could precipitate intense and lengthy negotiations among the GOP legislators until they can come up with a compromise candidate to replace Boehner.
Boehner’s allies are downplaying the crisis. Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole told MSNBC Monday that the debate is distracting attention from the GOP’s support for the Keystone XL pipeline. Cole favors an increase of foreign guest workers in place of Americans.
Boehner’s office touted his focus on economic issues. The GOP is “wasting no time getting started, kicking off the first week of the new American Congress with action on three bipartisan jobs bills,” said an afternoon statement, which did not mention the immigration issue.
The amnesty issue is driving the pushback against Boehner, said Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for Conservative Review, which opposes Boehner. “In all the local talk radio Conservative Review has done, it’s clear that Boehner’s capitulation on amnesty and working with Obama to pass and fund it was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Semmel said in an statement to TheDC.
In December, 67 GOP legislators voted against Boehner’s budget bill. The bill did did not include any language barring spending on the president’s unpopular award of work permits to 5 million illegals. But it did include language allowing Wall Street firms to get taxpayer insurance for risky financial strategies. Obama helped persuade Democrats to support the bill, in part because it allowed funding for his amnesty.
“A vote for Boehner is a vote for amnesty,” said Bill Gheen, founder of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
His group has endorsed numerous GOP legislators, but “if they vote for Boehner, we’re going to rescind our endorsements… and they will be added to the amnesty supporter list,” he told TheDC.
Before the 2016 election, “we’ll be looking for primary challengers,” he said.
In June 2014, Gheen helped unseat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the GOP primary.
For the 2016 election, Gheen said, “we’re looking for independent candidates as well, because if the Republicans do not have enough integrity to remove a serial liar who is facilitating the president… there is no need for us to deal with the Republican Party,” he said.
“We”re heading out the door,” he added.
A new poll released Monday by veteran pollster Pat Caddell reported that more than 80 percent of GOP voters and supporters “broadly and intensely oppose Obama’s recent executive order.”
“Republican voters by an astonishing 10 to one margin say they are less likely to vote for a member of Congress who voted to allow taxpayer money to be used to implement the President’s… order,” according to a summary of the poll results.
Sixty-six percent of the 602 respondents say they are strongly opposed to Obama’s amnesty, said the poll.
The swing voters who supported the GOP in November are even more opposed to the amnesty than the GOP’s mix of corporatist, libertarian, conservative and populist supporters, according to Caddell’s poll, which was conducted Dec. 26-30.
“On the issues of immigration and Obamacare, self-identified Independents who lean Republican and voted Republican in November are even more intense in their opposition to both than are [the] self-identified Republicans who classify themselves as not strong Republicans,” said the poll.
“Those voters most responsible for the Republican landslide in November and who constitute one-third of Republican voters seem to be more animated on these issues than are many self-identified Republicans,” the poll reported.
Fifty-five percent of “weak Republicans” and 65 percent of respondents who “lean Republican” strongly oppose the immigration measure.
Forty-nine percent of those polled said that Boehner supported Obama’s amnesty “because they are beholden to corporate special interests and big campaign donor.”
The poll also found 70 percent of “strong Republicans” said they would strongly oppose Republican legislators who voted to fund executive amnesty.
Moreover, 49 percent of “weak Republicans” and 63 percent of those who “lean Republican” said they would strongly oppose such candidates.
Other polls show that Obama’s immigration policies are unpopular among swing voters and even in the Democratic Party. Polls shows that voters believe companies and the government should hire Americans instead of bringing in additional immigrants.
For example, a September poll by Paragon Insights showed that large slices of the Democratic coalition would be “much more likely” to vote for a GOP candidate who says that “the first goal of immigration policy needs to be getting unemployed Americans back to work — not importing more low-wage workers to replace them.”
Thirty-eight percent of African-Americans, 39 percent of Democratic women, 36 percent of Latinos and roughly 47 precent of Midwesterners said they would be much more likely to support a GOP candidate who favors the employment of Americans.