The Republican establishment and outside groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are trying to blunt the influence of conservatives inside and outside of Congress to make it easier to pass amnesty.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, these groups are “preparing an aggressive effort to groom and support more centrist Republican candidates for Congress in 2014’s midterm elections.”
The Chamber of Commerce plans to spend at least $50 million to wage war against conservative and Tea Party candidates during the 2014 midterm elections while Rove’s American Crossroads is reloading as well. They hope that “a less restive Republican caucus” will pave the way for initiatives like immigration reform. The Chamber of Commerce has indicated it may also pressure incumbent Republicans in moderate districts who are not on board with amnesty to get their support.
The Journal reports that during the most recent budget battle, House Speaker John Boehner’s allies engaged in hardball tactics that may have been a trial run for the immigration battle. They worked behind the scenes to “end internal dissent,” strong-arming “GOP committee chairmen who had voted against the House leadership in prior fiscal battles” by making it clear that opposing Boehner on the budget deal may jeopardize their committee posts. Boehner trashed conservatives and conservative groups after the budget deal, and conservative talk radio host Mark Levin said Boehner was strategically doing that to lay the groundwork for the looming amnesty battle. One of the main reasons that the Republican establishment wanted a budget deal was the clear the legislative calendar in the early part of next year for amnesty.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue has already pledged to get involved in Republican primaries, and a Chamber of Commerce spokesperson, Scott Reed, denigrated conservatives by saying his organization’s mantra will be, “No fools on our ticket.” The Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Congress earlier this year saying that a “failure to act” on amnesty is “not an option” and indicated one of the main reasons it decided to play in Republican primaries was because the group was frustrated by resistance to amnesty, which would lead to an influx of foreign workers that will lower the wages of working class Americans.
House Republican leaders have left open the possibility of conferencing on piecemeal bills after President Barack Obama and Democrats said they would be okay if comprehensive immigration reform were broken up into pieces so long as all of the pieces passed. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said amnesty is “absolutely not” dead during this Congress.
Even though pressuring Republicans on the fence regarding amnesty may backfire, the Journal notes that “Republican leaders and their corporate allies” will try to use all of their might to diminish the “clout of the party’s most conservative activists.”