Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting, Oct. 4, 2013.
Bill Clark/Getty

GOP poised to let Steve King win

In the debate over immigration reform, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) plays a unique role. The right-wing Iowan has positioned himself as the fiercest, highest profile, most knee-jerk-anti-immigrant opponent of reform proposals in Congress.
 
It was King who made the notorious “calves the size of cantaloupes” remarks last summer; it was King who compared immigrants to dogs; and it was King who recently said of immigrants who might gain citizenship through military service, “We have a bus for you to Tijuana.”
 
Recognizing the damage the Republican lawmaker is doing, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reportedly called King an “a**hole” earlier this year.
 
The larger question, though, is whether Boehner, whatever he might personally think of the Iowa lawmaker, is prepared to let King prevail in the fight over immigration policy. Greg Sargent reported yesterday that King appeared on the House floor yesterday to boast: his position is his party’s position.
King cited Chuck Schumer’s recent claim that the Congressman from Iowa is an “extreme outlier” on the issue. King then helpfully pointed out that in fact, his position is indistinguishable from the Republican Party position, while deriding the Democratic position as akin to socialism.
 
In an important sense, King is absolutely right in suggesting that his posture on this issue is perfectly at home in today’s GOP. While most House Republicans don’t share King’s outsized views of immigrants … for all practical purposes, the position of many Republicans right now is that the only acceptable policy response to the immigration crisis is maximum deportations from the interior.
Greg added that, at least for now, “the GOP remains Steve King’s party.”
 
What, pray tell, do Republicans intend to do about it?
 
As Rachel and Jorge Ramos discussed on the show last night, Boehner, who recently admitted that his own members were responsible for blocking immigration reform, has returned to his “blame President Obama” talking points. It’s impossible to take the rhetoric seriously, and the response from Democratic leaders should end the sideshow altogether.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered to make 2017 the effective date for an immigration overhaul Thursday so Republicans no longer can use President Barack Obama as an excuse not to pass a bill – and set an August deadline for the House to act.
 
“Let’s pass immigration reform today. Make it take effect in 2017. Republicans don’t trust President Obama,” Reid said. “Let’s give them a chance to approve the bill under President Rand Paul or President Theodore Cruz. To be clear, delaying implementation of immigration reform is not my preference. But I feel so strongly that this bill needs to get done, I’m willing to show flexibility.”
This was no small development. Up until yesterday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had floated the possibility of a 2017 implementation date, but it had not yet become the official line of the Senate Democratic leadership. That apparently changed yesterday – if House GOP lawmakers insist on pushing the nonsensical line that they can’t trust the White House to implement federal law, Dems are prepared to take the excuse away.
 
But Republicans, no doubt aware of the fact that the “blame Obama” canard is baseless, have repeatedly said the 2017 accommodation isn’t good enough, either. Why not? Because they say so.
 
Also yesterday, Reid effectively established a deadline: the House has to pass an immigration bill by August or the process for this Congress will be dead. Any chance the Republican-led House, which doesn’t even have a bill, will act within three months?
 
If Steve King has his way, the answer is no – and when it comes to immigration, Steve King always seems to get his way.
 

Immigration Reform, John Boehner and Steve King

GOP poised to let Steve King win