House Republicans no longer plan to vote on an immigration reform bill this year. As one prominent Republican congressman explained, it’s unreasonable to expect a party that can’t keep the government open to be able to pass a bill like immigration reform.
The Hill reported that Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said he thinks it is unrealistic to pass the “divisive and difficult issue” of reform because it can barely handle the basics of a functioning government.
“I don’t even think we’ll get to that point until we get these other problems solved,” Cole said. “We’re not sure we can chew gum, let alone walk and chew gum, so let’s just chew gum for a while.”
Prior to the shutdown, this Congress was already the least productive in U.S. history. Having passed a little over a dozen bills this year, Congress has yet to even undo the damage caused by sequestration cuts, even as the House repeatedly votes to repeal Obamacare.
Other GOP representatives declared immigration dead, as well, though they blame Obama and not party infighting. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said Obama would try to “destroy” Republicans with immigration reform and said leadership would be “crazy” to negotiate. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) said Republicans should withhold legislating until they get what they want in budget cuts. to other congressional priorities. “He ain’t gonna get a willing partner in the House until he actually gets serious about … his plan to deal with the debt.”
Much like the shutdown exposed infighting within the GOP, Tea Party congressmen like Rep. Steve King (R-IA) represent only a small fraction of members that opposes any kind of reform. Their insistence on a piecemeal approach to immigration, that increases border security while leaving the central issues of legal status and citizenship unaddressed, is not shared by the majority of Americans. But that is exactly the kind of solution Republican leadership have suggested.