Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is likely positioning himself torun for president in 2016, has swooped in to again endorse the “Gang ofEight” Senate immigration bill and advocate that House Republicans passit–or a similar version of it. Bush had already endorsed the billbefore, but is now calling on the House to pass it with a majority ofRepublicans.
“Now that the Senate has passed comprehensive immigration reform, theaction shifts to the House of Representatives,” Bush and GoldwaterInstitute 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 supportamong Republicans before he will bring legislation to the floor for avote. That means an immigration bill will need a far greater share ofRepublican House members than the Senate version received (where fewerthan one-third of Republicans voted ‘aye’).”
The heart of Bush’s argument in favor of the bill is that he believesthat no responsible Republicans or conservatives would support biggovernment legislation–and, according to Bush, the Gang of Eight bill is not a big governmentsolution.
“No Republican would vote for legislation that stifled economicgrowth, promoted illegal immigration, added to the welfare rolls, andfailed to ensure a secure border,” Bush said. “Yet they essentially willdo just that if they fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform–andleave 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 therule of law: It makes it easier to immigrate legally than illegally,”Bush wrote. “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects thatthe Senate bill would reduce the budget deficit by more than $1 trillionover 20 years, boost the economy and increase productivity, withoutreducing the wages of U.S. workers. In short, it advances Republicaneconomic growth objectives.”
Bush did not, however, address how various economists and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) believe this bill wouldmake it harder for Americans to find jobs, especially minorities–andthat wages would be lower. Bush also left out howCBO said the bill would not stop illegal immigration; the nonpartisanbean-counting agency inside Congress determined that illegal immigrationwould continue at or about 75 percent of current illegal immigrationrates if the bill ever became law.
Bush similarly did not mention how theHeritage Foundation estimates legislation like the Gang of Eightimmigration bill would increase the nationaldeficit by about $6.3 trillion over its lifetime, largely by providingmany millions of illegal immigrants access to America’s welfare programsand other government benefits.
Bush’s and others’ push to make people believe the bill is not biggovernment did not succeed in the Senate. Proponents of the bill failedto hit their self-described mark of 70 votes, garnering only 68 votes in favor ofthe bill as 14 GOP senators joined all Senate Democrats and Independentsto vote for the bill. All of Senate Republican leadership opposed thebill: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Whip John Cornynand 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, andhis deputies like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House JudiciaryCommittee chairman Bob Goodlatte have echoed those statements.
Nonetheless, many in the institutional left, and those in theRepublican establishment driving this bill, or something like it, areattempting to split up that strong conservative opposition.
Bush’s call in the Journal on Monday is similar to callslast week from people like President Barack Obama and Senate MajorityLeader Harry Reid, who each demanded Boehner and House Republicans setaside 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 hisagenda by passing this bill. “Now is the time when opponents will trytheir hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stopcommonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen,”Obama said in the statement.
“The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise. Bydefinition, nobody got everything they wanted. Not Democrats. NotRepublicans. Not me,” he said. “But the Senate bill is consistent withthe key principles for commonsense reform that I–and many others–haverepeatedly laid out.”