Over the course of several emails Sunday evening after Breitbart News reported that Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus omitted any reference to the Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration bill during his speech to the Young Republican National Convention this weekend, RNC communications director Sean Spicer declined to answer whether Priebus supports the bill.
“He has been clear that’s its [sic] not the job of the RNC to do policy,” Spicer answered when pressed repeatedly for an answer.
Priebus has in the past, however, repeatedly weighed in on Obamacare, a health care policy law and has even gone so far as to weigh in on things like administration policy at the Department of Justice when he called for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation. Additionally, Priebus had no issue discussing the topic of immigration reform in the recent past.
“We need comprehensive immigration reform,” Priebus said during an interview in his office with CNN about two weeks ago. “I don’t think we can continue to drift along with this mess of immigration laws that we have. And a mess that in many regards has been the results of our government not even enforcing the laws that are in place.”
“There is plenty of blame to go around for why we are in this position, but I think it’s about time that we address it,” he explained.
Also, earlier this year, Priebus’s RNC issued its “autopsy” report on what it thought went wrong in the 2012 election. Near the top of the list of fixes, it recommended passing some sort of immigration reform. In fact, Senate Democrats have actually used that RNC document to split Senate Republicans.
Spicer originally ignored the request from Breitbart News for comment about why Priebus had omitted any reference to the Senate bill from his speech to the young GOP activists in Mobile, AL and did not answer questions before the piece ran early Sunday evening.
“Priebus, a Wisconsin native, is in the middle of a push to hire party employees in every state to focus on reaching non-white and younger voters who have favored Democrats in the last two decades, as Republicans have lost the popular vote in five out of six presidential elections,” the Associated Press reported, adding that he “did not explicitly mention the immigration bill.”
Priebus did, however, argue in that speech that Republicans need to “show up in the Asian community, the Hispanic community, the African-American community.”
“You can’t show up six months before an election,” Priebus said. “We have to be a year-round party.”
After Breitbart News published its story on Priebus’s omission, Spicer said that Priebus omitted the immigration bill from his remarks because he “was asked to provide an update on the party’s ground game and outreach efforts and that’s what he discussed.”
The GOP has been in an awkward position in recent months, as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the Republican members of the Gang of Eight, worked with Democrats including Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), to craft the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.
Conservatives like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) rose up over to fight against the bill in the Senate; most Republicans in the House have fought against it as well. While the bill passed the Senate 68-32, with 14 Republicans (including the Gang of Eight members) voting for it, proponents fell short of their goal of more than 70 votes.
Support seemed to dwindle more and more as time passed and the public learned more about the contents of the legislation. House Speaker John Boehner and his House GOP leadership team consider the bill dead on arrival, and most conservative members in the House view the Senate bill as an afterthought in the grander scheme of legislative discussions.
Now, some House members like Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) believe the Senate bill is unconstitutional because it raises revenue and originated in the Senate, thereby violating the U.S. Constitution’s origination clause.
Many in the GOP establishment have tried to blame Mitt Romney’s failure in last year’s election on failing to capture the Hispanic vote, a claim the Washington Examiner‘s Byron York debunked months ago. Even if Romney had won 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, York reported, he still would have lost the election.