House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) is working to outflank GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy on immigration in the early stages of a clash for Eric Cantor’s soon-to-be vacant Majority Leader slot, telling a group of reporters that securing the border is a “huge focus” of his.
“I am going to focus on the border. I am going to focus on fixing the border. We are going to make sure that this administration gets closer, and closer, and closer to securing the border. And we’re going to have to take us there. And if we don’t, we’re going to lose our country. We’re going to lose who we are as a country,” Sessions said.
Moments later, McCarthy exited the House chamber and declined to comment on the issue, saying “people have to announce before they talk.”
The early and aggressive moves by Sessions underscore that immigration promises to be a volatile issue in leadership contests after a political neophyte economist deposed Cantor by attacking him on the issue in the primary race, prompting the current scramble for power.
McCarthy has not formally announced he is running but is widely expected to. There is also discussion among Republicans that Boehner, Cantor or both could back his bid for the seat. The House GOP conference is scheduled to meet at 4:00pm for a previously unplanned session.
To a throng of reporters in a hallway off the House floor, Sessions touted himself as a conservative.
“I think that I am a conservative, I’ve always been a conservative, I’m a pro-business conservative, and I think that they will see a focus about what I think we should accomplish and I would expect to get an understanding – cleanly – about what this would mean,” he said.
Sessions spent more time discussing immigration than any other topic in his brief remarks.
“Any Texan can tell you this. We are in trouble and our country is in trouble. Our country is in trouble because of the corruption and the terrible things….[and the] lawlessness that are happening. That is quickly becoming a huge issue that I will focus on,” he said.