When the proposal was first introduced in 2007, then-Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) enlisted 104 co-sponsors — 102 of them Republicans. His 2009 version attracted 95 co-sponsors. After Deal’s election to the Georgia governorship, King took over as chief sponsor in 2011 and got 90 Republican co-sponsors. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced a Senate version with four GOP co-sponsors.
But with Republicans pursuing immigration reform in the aftermath of the presidential election, the measure has experienced a significant decline in support. Just two Senators have co-sponsored Vitter’s 2013 Senate bill. And Rep. King’s House version has just 24 co-sponsors to date — all Republicans.
Only a small amount of the drop-off can be attributed to turnover: 16 co-sponsors from the 112th Congress either lost re-election or retired and just one freshman (Michigan’s Kerry Bentivolio) has signed on thus far. And while it is only four months into the 113th Congress, more than two-thirds of the eventual House co-sponsors had already signed on at this point two years ago.
The 51 House incumbents who co-sponsored the bill in the last Congress but have not done so this year include a wide range of Republicans, including Members from swing districts won by President Obama (Reps. Gary Miller of California, Mike Coffman of Colorado, and John Kline of Minnesota) and the nation’s most rock-ribbed Republican districts (Reps. Spencer Bauchus and Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Reps. Ralph Hall and Kevin Brady of Texas). Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) have (so far) dropped from the ranks of the Senate co-sponsors.