Republican lawmakers continue to be miffed about losing the debt crisis power struggle, and to take out their frustration on the immigration reform issue. “The president’s actions and attitude over the past couple of weeks have certainly poisoned the well and made it harder to work together on any issue,” said a GOP aide recently.
Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy for the Center for American Progress, acknowledged that Republicans may just need some time. “There will definitely have to be a cooling off period,” he said. Republicans hold “a sense of, ‘Yes, we lost, but we won’t back down.’ It certainly feels like the fever has not broken.”
Republican senator Marco Rubio blames Republican reticence on President Obama’s recent actions during the debt crisis. “Immigration reform is going to be a lot harder to accomplish than it was three weeks ago,” he told Fox News on Sunday. At issue, say Republicans, is that President Obama cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith. He may make concessions during negotiations that he later reneges on, like he has done in the past, they say. Furthermore, during the debt crisis, the president announced that he would not negotiate on a government funding bill or debt limit increase, leaving Republicans with only two choices: concede, or stand their ground and allow the country to default. Most Republican lawmakers do not feel eager to jump back into the ring with a president whom they perceive to habitually break the rules of combat.
But not all Republicans are refusing to try for common ground again, post-government shutdown. GOP representative Mario Diaz-Balart from Florida—Rubio’s home state—has stated that there remain several House Republicans involved in bipartisan negotiations on immigration. “There are a number of us who are working on a proposal to deal with the folks who are here in a way that allows those who have not committed crimes to get right with the law,” he said, adding that they must decide “what to do with the millions of undocumented who are here in a way that completely conforms with the rule of law.”
Non-negotiable for House Republicans, says Diaz-Balart, is to have “border and interior security as part of anything [they] do.” In other words, Republicans will not pass a bill that lacks an enforceable way to ensure that illegal immigrants won’t continue to pour across the border. “We have to get the majority of Republicans in support, but on something this difficult and controversial, we’re going to need Democratic votes as well,” he said.
Diaz-Balart’s position may be just the middle ground Republicans need to get immigration up and running again. “The question is,” he said, “do we want to move forward on legislation to fix the borders? We’re going to have to take some political arrows but that’s what we’re here to do. I’m hearing a lot that you’ve got a president you can’t trust or negotiate with. That’s pretty much a consensus among Republicans. Here is what is also consensus: We have porous borders and 11 million here unlawfully. The broken system is not something Republicans should accept. If we don’t solve this issue, it will be back year after year. The number of undocumented will continue to grow.”
Source: Fox News, “2013 Immigration Reform Bill: ‘I’m Going To Push To Call A Vote,’ Says Obama,” FoxNews,
October 20, 2013
Source: NBC News, “Did shutdown ‘poison the well’ for immigration reform?,” Carrie Dann,
October 8, 2013
Source: The Washington Post, “Immigration reform: Still not quite dead,” Greg Sargent,
October 22, 2013