Jeb Bush Urges House to Pass Senate-Like Immigration Bill
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is likely positioning himself to
run for president in 2016, has swooped in to again endorse the “Gang of
Eight” Senate immigration bill and advocate that House Republicans pass
it--or a similar version of it. Bush had already endorsed the bill
before, but is now calling on the House to pass it with a majority of
“Now that the Senate has passed comprehensive immigration reform, the
action shifts to the House of Representatives,” Bush and Goldwater
Institute vice president for litigation Clint Bolick wrote in a joint op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Monday.
“Here the GOP's informal 'Hastert Rule' requires Speaker John Boehner to have majority support
among Republicans before he will bring legislation to the floor for a
vote. That means an immigration bill will need a far greater share of
Republican House members than the Senate version received (where fewer
than one-third of Republicans voted ‘aye’).”
The heart of Bush's argument in favor of the bill is that he believes
that no responsible Republicans or conservatives would support big
government legislation--and, according to Bush, the Gang of Eight bill is not a big government
“No Republican would vote for legislation that stifled economic
growth, promoted illegal immigration, added to the welfare rolls, and
failed to ensure a secure border,” Bush said. “Yet they essentially will
do just that if they fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform--and
leave in place a system that does all of those things.”
Bush then tried to argue that the Senate bill adhered to small government Republican principles.
“Overall, the bill satisfies a criterion that is essential to the
rule of law: It makes it easier to immigrate legally than illegally,”
Bush wrote. “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that
the Senate bill would reduce the budget deficit by more than $1 trillion
over 20 years, boost the economy and increase productivity, without
reducing the wages of U.S. workers. In short, it advances Republican
economic growth objectives.”
Bush did not, however, address how various economists and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) believe this bill would
make it harder for Americans to find jobs, especially minorities--and
that wages would be lower. Bush also left out how
CBO said the bill would not stop illegal immigration; the nonpartisan
bean-counting agency inside Congress determined that illegal immigration
would continue at or about 75 percent of current illegal immigration
rates if the bill ever became law.
Bush similarly did not mention how the
Heritage Foundation estimates legislation like the Gang of Eight
immigration bill would increase the national
deficit by about $6.3 trillion over its lifetime, largely by providing
many millions of illegal immigrants access to America’s welfare programs
and other government benefits.
Bush’s and others' push to make people believe the bill is not big
government did not succeed in the Senate. Proponents of the bill failed
to hit their self-described mark of 70 votes, garnering only 68 votes in favor of
the bill as 14 GOP senators joined all Senate Democrats and Independents
to vote for the bill. All of Senate Republican leadership opposed the
bill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Whip John Cornyn
and GOP conference chairman John Thune each voted against it.
In the House, GOP leadership considers the bill dead on arrival.
House Speaker John Boehner has said as much on numerous occasions, and
his deputies like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Judiciary
Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte have echoed those statements.
Nonetheless, many in the institutional left, and those in the
Republican establishment driving this bill, or something like it, are
attempting to split up that strong conservative opposition.
Bush's call in the Journal on Monday is similar to calls
last week from people like President Barack Obama and Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid, who each demanded Boehner and House Republicans set
aside their conservative principles to take up this legislation.
Upon the bill’s Senate passage last week,
President Obama issued a harsh call to House Republicans to support his
agenda by passing this bill. “Now is the time when opponents will try
their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop
commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen,"
Obama said in the statement.
"The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise. By
definition, nobody got everything they wanted. Not Democrats. Not
Republicans. Not me," he said. "But the Senate bill is consistent with
the key principles for commonsense reform that I--and many others--have
repeatedly laid out."