Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Breitbart News that he believes House Speaker John Boehner has the power to kill the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill once and for all.
“I think we should do something,” Paul said about immigration in a phone interview with Breitbart News. “There’s 11 million people here who are undocumented. If we do nothing, we’ll get another 11 million. Would I say is, would they do it without agreeing to conference on the Senate bill? I believe the Speaker has that much power in the House. I think he could say we are going to put forward an immigration bill but it’s not going to be like the Senate bill, it’s going to be more narrowly focused. It’s going to try to fix border security and expand work visas so we can have more people here legally. And it’s going to do those two things, but we’re not really going any farther than that and we’re not going to go to conference on the other bill. He has the ability to do that. Then he has to pass something. I think it’s a mistake to do nothing though. I think if we do nothing, we’re inviting 11 million more people to come in illegally.”
Paul’s comments come as Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) laid out in an op-ed for Breitbart News on Sunday evening how conservatives in the House could force Boehner to do just that. “We are concerned, however, that the House will pass individual, incremental bills only to have them cobbled together in a backroom deal with [Senate] Majority Leader [Harry] Reid and the Gang of Eight,” Sessions and Lee wrote for Breitbart News. “Through a series of procedural maneuvers, House leaders could agree to begin negotiations with the Senate, known as a conference, using one of these smaller, targeted bills, while the Senate could bring the Gang of Eight bill to the negotiations.”
Sessions and Lee added that such a “scenario” would “open the back door for congressional leaders to create a new amnesty-first, enforcement-later ‘comprehensive’ immigration bill” in a conference committee.
“Once the conference approves the new bill and sends it back to each chamber, amendments are prohibited and only an up-or-down vote is allowed,” Sessions and Lee wrote. “Another danger is that, after the House passes several smaller bills, congressional leaders could handpick negotiators to meet in secret and develop a ‘compromise’ plan to ‘fix’ the Senate bill and bring the new–even larger–comprehensive proposal to a vote in both chambers.”
Sen. Paul could not agree more. In his phone interview with Breitbart News, he urged House conservatives to stand up against a conference committee. “Conference is kind of messy in the sense that you can go to conference on anything and you don’t know what comes out of it,” Paul said. “The problem will be, I’m guessing, is that several conferees on the Republican side in the Senate will probably be authors of the bill that the Democrats put forward, which means we automatically put ourselves at a disadvantage in a conference committee.”
Paul added that the only pathway forward for conservatives to make sure they do not get tricked in the end is for Boehner to once and for all come out against a conference committee with the Senate on the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.
“So I think the only way to have a legitimate conference committee where we’re not going to get bamboozled and get the Senate bill is for Boehner to be explicit that we’re just not voting on the Senate bill,” Paul said. “We’re going to be putting forward a House bill. Depending on what is in the House bill, if he can decide what is in the House bill, we’ll then decide what the product is and then we’ll vote on it. But if we can’t come close to the House bill, we’re not going to vote on it. And that’s the trick to getting this thing done, but I think it’s the only way it gets done.”
Paul recently told conservative talker Laura Ingraham that if Boehner passes amnesty, he believes Boehner’s speakership is in jeopardy.
“If he allows something to pass out of conference that looks anything like the Senate bill and is passed with a majority of Democrats, I think that will be the final thing he does as speaker,” Paul said on Ingraham’s program in late August. “So, I think he knows that, and I think he’s going to be very cautious, and I hope he will defend us on this and not pass something that looks like the Senate bill.”