Another Enforcement-Minded House Representative Added to Powerful Position; Boehner Out?

In November, U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was announced as the successor to termed-out House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith. Capitol Hill observers consider Goodlatte every bit Smith’s equal when it comes to enforcement and ending illegal immigrants’ entitlements.

Now another stalwart has been added to the House Judiciary team. On December 18, Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was named chairman of the House immigration Subcommittee.  Like Goodlatte and Smith, Gowdy has vigorously opposed amnesty, the DREAM Act and deferred action. Gowdy co-sponsored a bill to end President Obama’s efforts to grant amnesty to certain aliens, the “Prohibiting Back Door Amnesty Act” and another to block the Justice Department from suing states like Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina that want to enforce federal immigration law.

Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies’ executive director, thinks Goodlatte and Gowdy’s appointments mean that the GOP, despite media hype to the contrary, feels no urgency to pass amnesty.

In an interview with USA Today, Krikorian said:

“What it suggests is that the House Republicans aren’t going to allow themselves to be stampeded by this amnesty panic because Gowdy is pretty hawkish on immigration.” [Rep. Gowdy Selected to Head Key Immigration Committee, by Alan Gomez, USA Today, December 18, 2012]

The rub is that Speaker John Boehner has given strong indications that he supports amnesty.  House Republicans are still angered by Boehner’s comment, without seeking their opinion, that he is “confident” that a comprehensive immigration reform with Senate Democrats can be achieved. [Boehner ‘Confident’ GOP, Obama Can Reach Deal on Immigration Reform, by Daniel Strauss, The Hill, November 8, 2012]

Some critics fear that Boehner’s office may write its own immigration legislation that would line up with what the Democrats are pushing—amnesty—and in the process, bypass the Judiciary Committee.

If rumors intensify that Boehner may try to skirt the Judiciary Committee, his already shaky standing among his House colleagues will become even more uncertain. In a major set back, Boehner took a pounding on his “Plan B” fiscal cliff negotiations and pulled his certain-to-be-defeated legislation before Congress abruptly adjourned for Christmas. [Cliff Chaos: Boehner Pulls GOP Bill, by Jake Sherman, Carrie Budoff Brown and John Bresnahan, Politico.com, December 20, 2012]

In light of his ignominious “Plan B” defeat, Boehner now faces his personal cliff. Some think Boehner’sinability to unite the House behind his tax cut proposal jeopardizes his speakership. To become Speaker, a candidate needs a plurality, not just a simple majority. If enough conservatives decide to oust Boehner, he may not survive his January re-election bid.

Here’s a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year closing for readers. As Congress heads home, immigration reform ranks a distant third on next year’s legislative priority list behind taxes and gun control.

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