Exclusive: Senate Republicans Line Up to Oppose House-Passed Amnesty Bills

GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images
GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images

A number of Senate Republicans are lining up to oppose two pieces of immigration legislation, both passed by House Democrats and a handful of House Republicans, that would provide amnesty to millions of illegal aliens living in the United States.

Last week, the Democrat-controlled House — with support from 30 House Republicans — passed H.R. 1603, known as the “Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021,” and H.R. 6, known as “American Dream and Promise Act of 2021.” The so-called “Farmworker Amnesty” and “Dream Act Amnesty” bills, though, are meeting firm GOP opposition in the Senate, possibly dooming their chances of making it through the upper chamber and becoming law.

Over the past several days, Breitbart News reached out to the offices of all 50 Senate Republicans to ask if the senators support consideration of these House-passed amnesty plans and found serious and growing opposition to them. To kill a bill in the Senate, with the filibuster intact as it currently is, Republicans need 41 of their 50 members to oppose the legislation. While at this time there are not 41 Republicans expressing public opposition to either plan, the growing opposition among Senate Republicans building quickly after the House passed the bills does not bode well for either plan’s chances. That does not mean either idea generally speaking is dead on arrival in the Senate, either, as Senators could draft a different plan than the House-passed plan–but the momentum for sweeping immigration changes is quickly hitting the brick wall of the filibuster in the Senate, dimming leftist hopes publicly touted by Senate Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) just this weekend that there might be enough support to move on either bill.

While the Farmworker Amnesty would give green cards to about 2.1 million illegal aliens working on U.S. farms, theDream Act Amnesty would put potentially 4.4 million young illegal aliens on track for American citizenship.

This weekend,  Durbin told CNN he is “close” to whipping enough votes to pass the H.R. 6 amnesty — the more expansive of the two bills. Senate Democrats need to peel off 10 Senate Republicans to pass the amnesties without changing the Senate rules by using the nuclear option to blow up the filibuster. Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have repeatedly said they will not support the nuclear option, and despite a push from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Joe Biden to do so, there is no sign that a push from the left to get either to back down may work. So, Durbin is trying to corral 60 senators–50 Democrats plus 10 Republicans–to back the legislation to get past the Senate rules.

“Do I have 60 now? I think I’m close,” Durbin said of the Dream Act Amnesty during that CNN interview. “I’m going to sit down with members of the Republican side and ask them if they would consider supporting it. I think I’ll have some support. Whether it’s enough remains to be seen.”

Durbin’s comments, several senior GOP Senate aides told Breitbart News, may be a bluff to try to gin up extra support and momentum for the amnesties–and several Senate GOP officials involved with immigration policy told Breitbart News that they do not believe that either House-passed plan will get close to 60 votes. While it is far from over, those private predictions of plugged-in Senate aides that both amnesty plans are dead on arrival in the Senate–in other words, both have opposition from at least 41 senators–appears to be true.

Breitbart News reached out to all 50 Senate Republicans to ask if they support the H.R. 1603 Farmworker Amnesty and the H.R. 6 Dream Act Amnesty. Thus far, 17 GOP senate offices confirmed they will oppose both bills even being considered by the Senate–and while that number may seem a little low, there are several offices that have not yet responded who are very likely to be opposed to both, and there is no reason to suspect that they would support either plan. Several offices would not confirm publicly where the senator stood on the issue, but privately confirmed they are opposed to both pieces of legislation as well–putting the number of hard no votes against both bills north of 30 GOP senators. Assuming those aides to those senators who did not want to confirm publicly where their member stood on these bills are accurately describing these senators’ positions, that means there is very little room for Durbin to maneuver to get to 60 votes on either bill.

Below, Breitbart News has compiled a dataset to show which Senate Republicans have said they will oppose the amnesty bills, which ones have not yet responded or refused to publicly confirm the senator’s position, and which ones have not taken a clear position at all. We will continue to update this as senators get back to us post-publication, but all 50 Republicans have had more than two full days to answer on the legislation.

SENATORS WHO STATED THEY WILL OPPOSE BOTH BILLS:

  1. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
  2. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)
  3. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN)
  4. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
  5. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  6. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
  7. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)
  8. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN)
  9. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
  10. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
  11. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
  12. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
  13. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
  14. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  15. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
  16. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
  17. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

 

SENATORS WHO DID NOT STATE A CLEAR POSITION ON THE BILLS

  1. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)

 

SENATORS WHOSE OFFICES DID NOT RESPOND OR REFUSED TO PUBLICLY CONFIRM POSITION:

  1. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
  2. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
  3. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
  4. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
  5. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
  6. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
  7. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
  8. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
  9. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)
  10. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)
  11. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  12. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  13. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
  14. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
  15. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
  16. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
  17. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  18. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  19. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
  20. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
  21. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID)
  22. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
  23. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
  24. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
  25. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
  26. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
  27. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
  28. Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
  29. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)
  30. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
  31. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)
  32. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)

 

There are definitely some surprises in this list in many respects. First and foremost, the decision by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) to oppose both House-passed amnesty bills is a major setback for proponents of the Farmworker Amnesty. While Crapo’s position on the Dream Act Amnesty was never in doubt — he was always opposed to that — his office confirmed to Breitbart News on Tuesday he is opposed to the House-passed Farmworker Amnesty — a major setback for lobbyists trying to get that bill through the Senate as well. When the House passed that bill last week, Crapo issued a joint statement with Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) praising it and saying he would work with Bennett to introduce a Senate companion bill.

“We applaud our colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives — on both sides of the aisle — for their work on this crucial legislation to make much-needed reforms to our immigration system for our producers and farmworkers,” Crapo and Bennett said in the joint statement on March 19. “House passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is an important step toward bringing certainty to our country’s agriculture industry and the hard-working producers and farmworkers who have sustained the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We will work together to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. Senate that appropriately addresses the needs of both the industry and the farmworkers that uphold it.”

But now, as of March 23 — just a few days after that statement — Crapo is opposed to the House-passed bill.

“Even though Senator Crapo has said he’ll work on a Senate version of the bill, we should add he won’t support the existing House-passed version,” Crapo’s spokeswoman Lindsay Nothern told Breitbart News on Tuesday. “Crapo has said in the past that he won’t support amnesty nor giving advantage or benefit toward citizenship for anyone who crosses the border illegally.  Those entering must get to the end of the line and following the legal process by applying for a green card, permanent status, or citizenship. The House bill is meant to be a targeted fix. Crapo supports helping Idaho farm producers with problems they have under the existing system, such as concerns over liability and the fact dairy producers need a year-round, stable workforce. In all, 34 Idaho industries support improving the workforce system. Crapo continues to work with those business leaders on potential solutions. The present situation at the southern border has not helped the situation but negotiations will continue in the Senate. Again, Crapo cannot support the House bill as presently written.”

Nothern added in a follow-up email that while discussions over a Senate package will “continue” in order to try to meet the needs of the agricultural community, “we are holding to core values” — which of course means opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens.

This development is a serious setback for those trying to push the House Farmworker Amnesty plan in the Senate, as the original Senate GOP sponsor of the bill is now saying he opposes the House-passed bill because of the amnesty provisions contained within.

More generally, the building opposition to both amnesties was pretty clear in senators’ quotes and responses. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), for instance, told Breitbart News that the Biden administration’s culpability in the border crisis precludes any possibility of negotiation on immigration policy. Rubio, of course, was in 2013 a member of the so-called “Gang of Eight” and helped get an amnesty passed out of the Senate. His opposition now to any such measures is a huge setback for the proponents of the various Democrat amnesty proposals.

“We have a full-blown crisis at the border because the Biden Administration, and Democrats in Congress are cutting back on enforcement while they pursue various new paths to citizenship,” Rubio told Breitbart News. “The only thing we should be focused on right now is stopping the humanitarian and security crisis we are confronting on our southern border.”

The office of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who is leading a trip to the border with his colleagues this week, confirmed he is strongly opposed to both bills. “I can confirm that Sen. Cruz is absolutely against both bills,” a Cruz spokesperson told Breitbart News. “Sen. Cruz is leading his colleagues in a tour of the border this week to witness the crisis President Biden and the Democrats’ radical agenda has created firsthand. Sen. Cruz will continue working with his colleagues to bolster border security, enforce the rule of law, and protect law-abiding Americans.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) called on President Biden to reverse his undoing of former President Donald Trump’s immigration actions. “We need to secure the southern border first and get this crisis caused by Biden under control before considering any immigration reforms,” the Daines spokesperson said. “A starting point would be to reinstate the policies from the Trump administration that Biden reversed on Day One.”

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) believes similarly and is concerned that these Democrat proposals are creating an incentive to prospective illegal aliens flooding the border. “Senator Hagerty is strongly opposed to amnesty, and it is astonishing that Democrats are proposing an amnesty plan at a time when the Biden Administration’s unilateral dismantling of American border security measures has created a border crisis in which there are currently record numbers of unaccompanied migrant minors in custody,” a Hagerty spokesperson told Breitbart News. “Secretary Mayorkas acknowledged last week that the government cannot currently process within legal time limits the record number of minors currently in custody, and simultaneously enacting a blanket amnesty proposal would only encourage more illegal immigration and exacerbate this humanitarian crisis, which the White House still refuses to acknowledge. The Senator believes that securing our border and protecting American workers struggling to find jobs in light of the pandemic-induced recession must be the priority, not importing foreign labor to compete with them.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is strongly opposed as well. “Sen. Inhofe has always been consistent in that he will not support immigration proposals that grant amnesty to those here illegally – allowing them to jump the line ahead of immigrants going through the process lawfully,” Inhofe’s spokesperson told Breitbart News, adding that he is a “no on any bill that grants amnesty!”

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) lamented the lack of any serious bipartisanship in addressing these problems. “Senator Hyde-Smith does not support the partisan immigration bills generated in the House,” a spokesperson for the Mississippi Republican told Breitbart News. “The Senator, who has consistently opposed rewarding those who have entered our country illegally, believes the country would be better served with a comprehensive and bipartisan approach to secure our borders and fix the broken American immigration system.”

After the original publication of this article, a spokesperson for Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) confirmed he is against both bills as well. “Sen. Marshall opposed both bills during his time in the House,” his spokesperson said, also confirming he remains opposed to both of them now. Also after publication, a spokesperson for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) confirmed he is also against both House-passed bills.

Despite the growing opposition to amnesty measures among Republican Senators, one surprise in a different direction is the position of Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). A spokesperson for Scott, who as Breitbart News has reported is developing his own Dream Act-style amnesty bill despite his office’s insistence that he opposes amnesty, would not say he is opposed to or supportive of the two bills that passed the House last week. When asked about them, Scott’s office issued a generic statement reiterating the senator opposes amnesty without specifically saying where he is on these two particular bills.

“Senator Scott does not support amnesty,” Scott’s office told Breitbart News. “Look at what Biden’s open borders and amnesty plan is doing to our Southern border. Senator Scott has long said reforms to the immigration system become much more simple once the border is secure, and that’s his focus.”

Asked again in a follow-up email if that means the senator is specifically opposed to the two bills in question that passed the House last week–the Farmworker Amnesty plan and the Dream Act Amnesty plan–his office issued another vague and general condemnation of amnesty. “Senator Scott does not support amnesty,” Scott’s spokesperson said.

In the did not answer or refused to publicly state a position column, too, there are also some surprises. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), John Kennedy (R-LA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jim Risch (R-ID), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Todd Young (R-IN), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and John Barrasso (R-WY) are all probably hard against both bills based off their previous voting history and other public statements, but their offices did not reply or would not publicly confirm their positions. Assuming they all are, that would put the total of confirmed opposition over 30–and in stone’s throw range of reaching a filibuster of 41.

Breitbart News will continue to update this story and report in new stories as more senators answer these basic questions, but one thing is very clear: Republican voters and conservatives are overwhelmingly opposed to both of these amnesty bills.

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey of about 1,000 likely U.S. voters found that Republicans opposed the amnesty bills by 72 percent. Conservatives, likewise, oppose the amnesty bills by a 77 percent majority, and swing voters oppose the bills by a 55 percent majority.

The H.R. 1603 Farmworker Amnesty and the H.R. 6 Dream Act Amnesty have each been backed by some of the nation’s most powerful political donors in the Washington, DC beltway. The H.R. 6 amnesty, for instance, has support from tech conglomerates like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Facebook, as well as multinational corporations like Verizon, Visa, Marriott International, and Apple.

Meanwhile, big agriculture interests are lobbying for lawmakers to pass the Farmworker Amnesty as the legislation, aside from legalizing an illegal workforce, would allow farms to import more foreign visa workers each year and is explicitly designed to keep U.S. wages from rising.

The authors of the Farmworker Amnesty say the legislation is necessary to “stabilize wage rates” by capping the rate to which wages can grow in the future. The National Council for Farmer Cooperatives and the National Milk Producers Federation are both backing the amnesty.

“Without reform, the minimum wage rates will continue to skyrocket…” the authors of the amnesty admit in their summary of the legislation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is lobbying on behalf of bost amnesties — calling their passage “critically important” in a statement. The Chamber represents the interests of big businesses who see mass immigration as a boon to their profit margins as they can cut the cost of labor by artificially inflating the labor market.

Research by the Center for Immigration Studies’ Steven Camarota reveals that for every one percent increase in the immigrant portion of an American workers’ occupation, Americans’ weekly wages are cut by perhaps 0.5 percent. This means the average native-born American worker today has his weekly wages reduced by potentially 8.75 percent, as more than 17 percent of the workforce is foreign-born.

Already, current immigration levels put downward pressure on U.S. wages while redistributing about $500 billion in wealth away from America’s working and middle class and towards employers and new arrivals, research by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has found.

Peer-reviewed research by economist Christoph Albert acknowledges that “as immigrants accept lower wages, they are preferably chosen by firms and therefore have higher job-finding rates than natives, consistent with evidence found in U.S. data.” Albert’s research also finds that immigration “raises competition” for native-born Americans in the labor market.

Independent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has repeatedly noted how amnesty, and high immigration levels, depletes U.S. wages.

In 2013, CBO analysis stated that the “Gang of Eight” amnesty plan would “slightly” push down wages for the American workers. A 2020 CBO analysis stated that “immigration has exerted downward pressure on the wages of relatively low-skilled workers who are already in the country, regardless of their birthplace.”

Today, there are anywhere between 11 to 22 million illegal aliens living in the U.S.

This piece has been updated with the latest from Senate offices as Senators continue taking positions on the two pieces of House-passed legislation. 

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