Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told Breitbart News on Thursday that “Gang of Eight” Republican Sens. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) did not appear to impress House conservatives in the Republican Study Committee (RSC) on Wednesday. King said conservatives in the House are rallying and ready to battle the bill if it makes it out of the Senate.
“I walked out of there and thought that, with most everybody that spoke, there was nothing new,” King said in a phone interview. “They just said the things that I’ve seen in the media. I don’t know that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) uttered anything that he hadn’t said multiple times before.”
King added that other opponents of the bill present, such as Sens. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), made a more favorable impression on his colleagues.
“Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) came the closest, I think, to saying what needed to be said,” King said. “That is that the president is not enforcing the law and that we’re seeking to pass legislation that will fix that problem. I’m glad that he sees this thing from a constitutional perspective.”
“I would put it more bluntly than Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) did and say we don’t have a legislative problem,” King added. We have an executive problem with immigration.”
King said he is “convinced” that Sen. Lee “helped members in that room understand that. I’m glad that he spoke up with the strong passion that he did about the separation of powers.”
King said Cruz told the RSC meeting that “the House is the only place that can stop this bad piece of legislation.”
King added that Sessions was “very clear on the economic harm that the Gang of Eight’s bill would inflict upon the country.”
“He went through some statistics and data about the cost to our economy and he’s been articulate about that all along,” King said of Sessions. “He’s been the most stalwart anti-amnesty warrior, I think, in the U.S. Senate.”
If the Senate passes the legislation, King said “there are bunch of people in the House who are ready to fight it.”
“They’re lining up,” King said of growing GOP opposition to an amnesty bill.
“I don’t know if I can speak for the [whole] House,” King said. “But I can tell you there’s a growing group of people in the House that are ready to fight it. And one of the measures is the vote for my amendment that took place this morning.”
King was referencing a Thursday vote by the full House of Representatives on his amendment stopping President Barack Obama’s and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s executive order amnesty for certain groups of illegal immigrants.
But, King added that conservatives should not be too quick to trust Republican leadership to not pass the bill with Democrat votes. “I think we should be very worried about breaking the Hastert Rule,” King said. “If that happens, if an immigration bill comes to the floor of the House of Representatives, and it receives more Democrat votes than Republican votes and if we don’t have a majority of our conference that supports it, I think you will see a huge rift created within the Republican conference.”
King then walked through how the opposition to the Senate immigration bill has been building steadily in the House ranks. “Five weeks ago, I called the first immigration meeting,” King said. “Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) and I joined together on this, I want to give him credit, and he and I had put our heads together and decided we would invite some more rule of law people.
“We had a little meeting with about a half a dozen of us sitting in my office here. We talked about what we can do. At that point, it was ‘do floor speeches and interviews and go find some more colleagues that agree with us.’ That effort has been growing…I have now in my possession a letter that requests a special conference on immigration,” King said.
“It takes 50 signatures to do that. We’re well over 50.”