Right-wing media have seized on Senate Democrats' parliamentary change to eliminate filibusters for most presidential nominees to call for Republicans to block immigration reform or advance the notion that the change makes it less likely for Republicans to act on reform. In fact, Republicans repeatedly refused to act on immigration reform long before this change took place.
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Senate Democrats Approve Rule Change To Speed Up Stalled Nominations
AP: Under New Rule, Only A Simple Majority Will Be Required To Clear The Way For A Final Vote On Most Presidential Nominees. As the Associated Press reported, Democrats set a new precedent under Senate rules on filibusters to allow for quicker confirmation of presidential appointees:
Sweeping aside a century of precedent, Democrats took a chunk out of the Senate's hallowed filibuster tradition on Thursday and cleared the way for speedy confirmation of controversial appointments made by President Barack Obama and chief executives in the future.
At issue was a rule that has required a 60-vote majority to end debate in the 100-member Senate and assure a yes-or-no vote on presidential nominees to federal courts or to Cabinet departments or other agencies.
Under a parliamentary maneuver scripted in advance, Democrats changed the proceedings so that only a simple majority was required to clear the way for a final vote. In Senate-speak, this was accomplished by establishing a new precedent under the rules, rather than a formal rules change. [Associated Press, 11/21/13]
Conservative Media Use Rule Change As An Excuse For GOP Not To Act On Immigration Reform
Rush Limbaugh After Rules Change: "Amnesty Ought To Be Dead In The Water." On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh listed several actions Republicans could take in the wake of Senate Democrats' rule change on filibusters, saying "all Obama agenda items that make it to the Senate floor should be objected to, at every juncture," including immigration reform. He went on to say:
LIMBAUGH: Republicans should never vote in favor of another Obama initiative, no matter how benign -- unless it's a Republican measure that benefits Republicans in a way that Democrats find [intelligible]. And this includes amnesty. Amnesty ought to be dead in the water.
Of course, the problem is that the Republicans want amnesty. The problem is, you know you look at it from the outside, you almost would conclude that there are some Republicans who actually wish they were Democrats. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/22/13]
Laura Ingraham Encouraged Republicans To Refuse To Work With Democrats On Immigration Following Filibuster Change. During an interview with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on her radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham agreed with McConnell's statement that the rule change was an example of President Obama's "power grab," and suggested Republicans refuse to work with Democrats on immigration following the filibuster move, which she likened to being hit in the face "with a two-by-four." She continued:
INGRAHAM: The idea of working with Democrats after we've seen the fraud of Obamacare, the lies about Obamacare, policies canceled -- all those lies, now this. Should Republicans -- should Republicans work with the Democrats on the issue of immigration given, or any major issue, given what they've proven themselves capable of? [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 11/22/13]
Ed Henry: Filibuster Reform "Could Poison The Well" Against Obama's Agenda, Including Immigration Reform. Discussing the rule change on Fox News, chief White House correspondent Ed Henry claimed Republicans would now be less likely to work with Democrats on immigration reform, saying that "what it could mean in the long run for [President Obama's] agenda is that it could really poison the well even further on a partisan basis and get Republicans --who are already a determined opposition against much of his agenda: immigration reform, grand bargain, budget deal, you name it -- even more angry about this." [Fox News, America's News HQ, 11/21/13]
FoxNews.com: "Any Prospect For Compromise" On Immigration Reform "Is Now That Much Fainter." A FoxNews.com article repeated the GOP claim that the parliamentary move "has poisoned an already tainted well," adding: "Any prospect for compromise on items ranging from immigration legislation to a fiscal deal to tax reform is now that much fainter." The article went on to quote a Republican strategist reinforcing the claim:
"There's no question that the move by Harry Reid will make it much tougher to get anything done between now and 2014," GOP strategist and former long-time Senate aide John Ullyot told FoxNews.com.
"In the short-term, it's a wrecking ball through any efforts that were underway previously to have both parties work together on key bills." [FoxNews.com, 11/22/13]
In Fact, Republicans Have Repeatedly Refused To Take Action On Immigration Reform
AP: "Many Rank-And-File House Republicans Have Shown Little Inclination To Deal With Immigration." In an article reporting Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) statement that "lawmakers won't vote this year on the issue, confirming what many had long assumed," the Associated Press noted:
Although House Republican leaders say they want to resolve the issue, which has become a political drag for the GOP, many rank-and-file House Republicans have shown little inclination to deal with immigration. The bitter standoff with President Barack Obama on the budget and near default further angered House Republicans, who have resisted any move that might give Obama an immigration overhaul, the top item on his second-term domestic agenda.
Many House Republicans also are wary of passing any immigration legislation that would set up a conference with the Democratic-controlled Senate, fearing the House could lose out in final negotiations. [Associated Press, 11/8/13]
NY Times: Republicans "Privately Say They See No Political Advantage For The Party To Move Ahead On Immigration Legislation Right Now." In an article discussing an effort by immigration reform supporters to withhold "future financial support to Republican lawmakers they believe are obstructing progress on immigration," The New York Times reported:
Pushing back against the pressure to act from within their own party, a core group of conservatives said in interviews this week that they would not be intimidated by corporate America or other outside parties, even though in this case that includes farmers, evangelical leaders and some prominent conservatives.
"I care about the sovereignty of the United States of America and what it stands for, and not an open-door policy," said Representative Ted Yoho, Republican of Florida, who is one of several conservatives opposing all of the bills the House is currently considering.
Though House Republican leaders -- including Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader -- have expressed support for moving on their own immigration measure this year, given that the Senate has already passed a comprehensive bill, the prospect for any legislation before year's end is uncertain.
A growing number of Republicans, however, privately say they see no political advantage for the party to move ahead on immigration legislation right now. They do not expect it to be a critical issue in the 2014 midterms -- in fact, some House Republicans may be even more reluctant to take a tough vote on immigration during an election year -- and they say it simply needs to be dealt with before the 2016 presidential election. Thus, they say, they are most optimistic about pushing through an overhaul in 2015. [The New York Times, 10/25/13]
House Speaker John Boehner: "I'll Make Clear We have No Intention Of Ever Going To Conference On The Senate bill." As The New York Times reported, House Majority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) decision to refuse negotiations between the House and the Senate likely spelled the end of immigration reform this year:
Signaling an end to the push for major immigration legislation this year, Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday ruled out negotiations between the House and the Senate on an expansive immigration overhaul similar to one approved by the Senate with bipartisan support in June.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Boehner said that while House Republicans were working on a "common-sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration," they were unwilling to enter into talks with the Senate on a broad bill that would include a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally.
"The idea that we're going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House," he said. "And frankly, I'll make clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."
With few legislative days left in 2013 and nearly all the focus on the health care law and House-Senate budget talks, Mr. Boehner said House Republicans had little interest in detouring on to immigration legislation that divides their party. His stance means the immigration fight would be pushed into 2014. If there was to be movement, it would probably have to come earlier in the year before the midterm elections get too close. [The New York Times, 11/13/13]
Huffington Post: Republicans Have Repeatedly Given Varying Excuses For Inaction On Immigration Reform. A Huffington Post article highlighted the various reasons Republicans have given in order to refuse passing immigration reform, including the Affordable Care Act, the claim that Obama "can't be trusted," and that there's little time left in the legislative agenda. [Huffington Post, 11/19/13]
Conservative Media Figures Have Repeatedly Urged GOP To Obstruct Immigration Reform
Ingraham Advised Boehner To Step Away From Immigration Reform "Trap." On the July 10 broadcast of her radio show, Ingraham likened immigration reform to a "trap" and stated that she was pressuring Boehner to make sure that he ultimately "walk[ed] away from this trap set" by congressional Democrats and other immigration reform supporters. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 7/10/13]
For more on conservative media advising Republicans to walk away from immigration reform, click here.