A leading conservative in the House of Representatives criticized GOP leadership in the Senate on Wednesday, saying that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already lost the immigration battle to Obama before the first fight has even started.
Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said it was “uncanny” that the Republican Senate seems to have capitulated in advance to Obama’s immigration agenda. McConnell, Labrador said, “is already sending the message that we’ve already lost this battle.”
“Last year the message was, ‘We cannot get our way because we don’t have a Senate [majority],'” Labrador said. “Now this year’s message is, ‘We cannot get our way, because we only have 54 votes.'”
“That’s not leadership. That’s not why the American people voted for us,” Labrador said at the “Conversations with Conservatives” event held by the Heritage Foundation on January 21.
Labrador is fighting an uphill battle if what Senate Majority Leader McConnell said early in December still holds. Only about a month ago, McConnell signaled that immigration would not be a priority once the GOP took control of the upper chamber.
While he agreed that the immigration system is “broken,” McConnell admitted that, in his view, immigration is “not an early item for consideration in the Republican Senate.”
Additionally, only a few weeks ago, McConnell announced that he intends to work with Obama going forward. “I’m not opposed to negotiating with the administration,” the Majority Leader told CNN. “So I don’t object to negotiating with him. I’ve done it in the past,” he added.
Labrador criticized the disinterest in addressing the issue and the vows of cooperation between McConnell and the White House, saying that it was just like handing power back to former Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“It’s high time that Mitch McConnell stand up and say, ‘This is what we are fighting for in the Senate.’ That’s definitely what he said during his campaign, so let’s make sure he does it now as the majority leader,” the representative said.
Labrador also urged Senate conservatives Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) to “start fighting” against Obama’s amnesty plans in the Senate by using any means at their disposal.
“They also have a responsibility in the Senate to make sure” that bills from the House supported by the GOP majority also pass in the Senate, Labrador added.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.