Without a hint of humor or shame, the Republican National Committee issued a press release this morning accusing President Obama of being “All Talk, No Action” when it comes to the “Hispanic Community.” No, seriously, that’s what the RNC said.
Someone at the RNC’s communications office probably should have thought this one through a little more, since, when it comes to issues important to Latino voters, it’s the lack of “action” from congressional Republicans that’s proving to be so problematic.
Indeed, when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform, which is facing long odds in the face of fierce opposition from the House GOP, the question is whether these Republican lawmakers are prepared to do anything on the issue. National Review’s Jonathan Strong reports they may not (via Greg Sargent).
Speaker John Boehner wants to pass a series of small bills dealing with immigration reform piece by piece, but it’s not clear whether 218 votes, the required number for passage, will be there for any of them.
Top Democrats are already signaling they’ll oppose the various bills being prepared by the GOP leadership, and conservative Republicans, especially, are wary. Many Republicans will prefer to simply vote against any bill, even if they agree with elements of the legislation, just to prevent Boehner from going to conference with the Senate. Such a conference, many conservatives fear, could lead to a consensus bill that includes amnesty.
When it comes to the future of the policy, this is obviously important. House Republican leaders don’t intend to consider the bipartisan Senate bill, but they also don’t want to do nothing. Boehner & Co. figure they can at least put a positive face on failure by instead taking up elements of immigration reform piecemeal.
But Strong, whose sourcing among Republicans on Capitol Hill is excellent, is reporting that rank-and-file House Republicans aren’t even willing to go this far. Indeed, they’ll even oppose measures they like for fear that they’ll go to a conference committee and become slightly more progressive after negotiations with the Senate Democratic majority.
It’s easier, they figure, to just kill every element of immigration reform and hope the electoral consequences aren’t too severe.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a good reason for that. This is the strategy outlined just last week by Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and National Review editor Rich Lowry – two of the most influential Republican voices in media – who co-signed an editorial urging House Republicans to put “a stake through” immigration reform’s “heart.”
More specifically, they urged GOP lawmakers should do literally nothing on the issue – no House alternative, no conference committee, no attempt at finding “common ground.”
It appears the advice was well received.
And so this once again puts the Speaker in an awkward position, as it sinks in that many in his own caucus prefer inaction – and he’s already committed to the so-called “Hastert Rule” that effectively gives these far-right House members a veto power over which bills reach the floor.
What was that the RNC was saying about “All Talk, No Action”?