Conservatives Fear 'Conference' May Transform House Immigration Bills to Senate's Amnesty
While House Speaker John Boehner is keeping a tight lid on his personal position on immigration reform, conservative activists and lawmakers fear the Republican leader may rubber-stamp Democrats' controversial legislation in a backroom deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Boehner declined to answer whether he supports what many on the left have come to term a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants during his appearance on CBS News’ Face The Nation on Sunday morning. For conservative lawmakers, that does not assuage fears that he and his deputies House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan could be working behind the scenes cut a deal with Reid and President Barack Obama to achieve amnesty for illegal immigrants in America.
“We are scared to death of what we figure is already Boehner’s end game,” a senior congressional GOP aide told Breitbart News. “There are so many forces within the GOP establishment pushing for their interests that it’s hard to conceive that Boehner will not cave to them.”
Boehner could “conference” any bill or group of bills the House passes related to immigration with the Senate's controversial immigration bill. In conference, representatives for House GOP leadership would negotiate with Senate Democratic leadership, and potentially the White House, on what they would call a “compromise” on immigration reform.
Conservatives do not trust Boehner and his team to stand up to Senate Democrats in conference, so they are advocating the House refuse to pass any legislation for fear it could be molded into a “compromise” that looks just like or is identical language to the Senate bill.
Many conservatives fear that such a compromise would only get a short amount of time for actual review, and votes would be whipped up and sold using talking points just like how the Senate bill passed. They point to comments from Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), whose amendment with Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) made a series of massive changes to the bill, where he argued that it is acceptable for senators to work with because they “will have more than 72 hours to read and review the proposal before any votes.”
“The worry among Capitol Hill conservatives was that Boehner would take any House-passed bill with the word ‘immigration’ in it and set up a conference that would produce a bill with the trappings of compromise that would be politically difficult to oppose,” conservative journalist Neil McCabe, a former senior reporter for Human Events, wrote in a recent column for Town Hall magazine.
McCabe’s column, titled “Stockman calls out Boehner gambit to save amnesty agenda,” focuses on efforts Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has led to uncover how the Senate immigration bill is unconstitutional on the grounds that it raises revenue. As Breitbart News reported last week, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the House authority on tax and revenue issues, agreed with Stockman’s analysis and similarly labeled the bill unconstitutional.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can protect the bill, and a future deal with House GOP leaders, by using a procedural trick in which he holds on to the bill in his chamber of Congress and does not send it over to the House. Though the bill passed the Senate several weeks ago now, Reid has not yet delivered it to the House.
Boehner has not agreed to refuse to salvage the Senate bill, as conservatives like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) have requested. All indications are that such a conference would not happen until sometime after the August recess, as the opposition to amnesty has slowed proponents of the effort.
Conservative columnist and best-selling author Ann Coulter, who has been warning for months about such a conference strategy by amnesty advocates, believes the House should not pass any immigration bills, regardless of their individual merit. She argues that pro-amnesty lawmakers may use a conference as a vehicle to get the Senate bill or something like it to President Barack Obama’s desk, where he can sign it into law.
“Right now, people who don’t want amnesty have to call the House and say they don’t want any immigration bill until we have a Republican Senate,” Coulter said in a late-June appearance on Fox News Channel’s Hannity. “If they pass a bill that does nothing but enforce e-verify, does nothing but enforce the fence, it will go into conference with the Senate and it will come out an amnesty bill.”
Coulter added that she suspects Boehner "secretly wants" amnesty for illegal immigrants:
Nothing will happen with a vote to enforce E-verify, which by the way is a one-page simple bill; they could do that right away if they were serious about enforcing the border. But I don’t trust and perhaps I’m wrong, I hope he will prove me wrong. I think John Boehner secretly wants the amnesty and he want as fig leaf to make it took like, "Oh, no we just voted on the fence." No, a vote on the fence in the House is a vote for amnesty.
“Ann Coulter got it exactly right,” added that senior GOP congressional aide who warned that Republicans are “scared to death” about what Boehner could do.