Our flawed immigration system is one of the most pressing problems facing our nation today. The flood of illegals continuing to pour across our borders poses threats to our national security and brings an epidemic of crime, drugs, disease and countless other problems while border agencies are limited in their response.
Then-candidate Trump promised to build a wall to thwart illegal immigration and demanded legislative action to stem the flood of illegals. House Speaker Paul Ryan and fellow leftwing Republicans, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have done nothing.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus (HFC) supports H.R. 4760, The Securing America’s Future Act (aka the Goodlatte bill) proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The Goodlatte bill provides temporary, renewable legal status to about 700,000 illegal alien youths who signed up under President Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order. But Goodlatte also provides a laundry list of border security measures, including funding for the Wall, an end to chain migration and the diversity visa, and other measures. The bill has enough good features that it even earned the endorsement of the stridently anti-amnesty NumbersUSA.
Recently, Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas), Jeff Denham, (R-Calif.), and Carlos Curbelo, (R-Fla.) proposed using what is called a discharge petition to force a vote on a much broader set of immigration proposals. A discharge petition allows a bill to be released from committee for a floor vote over the objections of committee chairs and House leadership. It requires an absolute majority of House members — 218 votes — to succeed.
Speaker Ryan promised the HFC to whip the Goodlatte bill and provide an up-or-down floor vote on that bill alone by offering a resolution that would have ended the discharge petition crisis. In return for this pledge, HFC members promised to support the very contentious corporate-welfare-loaded Farm bill, which National Review columnist Michael Tanner called “a dog’s breakfast.” However, at the last minute, Ryan pulled a bait-and-switch, telling the HFC that the “Goodlatte” bill to be offered would contain unspecified modifications. The HFC balked, and the Farm bill went down in flames.
Open borders Republicans have teamed with the Democrats and are now merely four votes short of the discharge petition’s necessary 218, and Republican backers say they can get the rest of the votes. If they succeed, four separate immigration bills will come to the floor — Goodlatte, two other GOP proposals, and one from Democrats. The one getting the most votes — the so-called “queen of the hill” — will win. In competition with other bills, Goodlatte will fail, because there are too many Republicans carrying water for the Chamber of Commerce, which wants total amnesty. The Democrat proposal, or something close, will succeed, because it will be the only one they vote for — in essence giving Democrats a major win on amnesty in the run-up to November.
Trump is unlikely to sign the bill, but that won’t matter. The House GOP will have already further alienated a base already demoralized and infuriated by their relentless thwarting of President Trump’s immigration agenda. More than anything else, his tough stance on immigration won him the White House, and the GOP betrayal will make already challenging midterm election prospects even dimmer.
Both House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise have publicly denounced the discharge petition.
A week ago, McCarthy described how it could affect prospects for November: “If [the] election is today, we win. We will continue to grow. But … Intensity levels are still not there, and discharge petitions release the power of the floor that the American people gave us the responsibly to hold. When you release that power the majority goes to Nancy. If you want to depress intensity [i.e. voter turnout] this is [the] number one way to do it. We can debate internally but don’t let someone else like Nancy decide our future.”
Great words, but every D.C. insider knows that if McCarthy and Scalise used their combined power to stop the discharge petition, very few Republicans would dare support it. Instead, they have done nothing. Furthermore, one of the key petition supporters is Elise Stefanik — the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and a close friend of Speaker Ryan. It is unlikely she would defy leadership on this critical issue, so she must have received a quiet nod.
Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, has said, “By Ryan and McCarthy’s own admission, allowing this discharge petition is the death knell to the Republican majority in November. The fact that they refuse to stop it demonstrates either extraordinary weakness or willful deception about their opposition to the Democrats’ running the table on amnesty.”
Paul Ryan is retiring this year. Unfortunately, he is departing with a final middle finger to the HFC, the only House members consistently honoring their campaign pledges to do their jobs. Little will change if the House remains on its current trajectory. Ryan’s anointed successor, Majority Leader McCarthy, is at least as bad. Majority Whip Scalise, whose name has been circulated as well, abandoned his conservative mantle when he joined the leadership team. All are willing to surrender the House to Democrats in order to keep the monies rolling in from the Chamber of Commerce — the cheap labor seeking engine for amnesty.
If McCarthy and Scalise want to show true leadership they have to use the full power in their hands to stop the discharge petition. If they will not do this, they are enabling the Democrats. If they cannot do this, they are weak and ineffectual. In either case, they do not deserve leadership.
There is currently an effort afoot to draft HFC member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) as candidate for House Speaker. An open letter to Jordan has received 801 signatures as of this writing, urging him to run and “Clean House.” Rep. Jordan is the kind of leader our nation desperately needs at this critical juncture.
The days of GOP betrayal, equivocation and incompetence have to end. A Jordan speakership would re-energize the base and give it reason to turn out in numbers in November. The alternative, a Nancy Pelosi Democrat-controlled Congress, would further thwart the Trump agenda, seek to impeach him, and set the stage for a Democrat presidential victory in 2020. Trump’s substantial achievements will be rolled back and it is doubtful our nation could survive another Obama-esque presidency.
James Simpson is an economist, businessman and investigative journalist. His latest book is The Red Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America. Follow Jim on Twitter & Facebook.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.