A Republican congressman from a heavily Hispanic district is breaking ranks from his party to join Democrats in an eleventh-hour push for a broad immigration overhaul before the end of the year.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) plans to sign on as the lone GOP member with 185 Democrats to co-sponsor a plan that would give millions of unauthorized immigrants the chance to attain citizenship.
A handful of House Republicans have expressed support for citizenship legislation similar to the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate over the summer. But Denham is taking the additional — and politically provocative — step of locking arms with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democrats trying to neutralize opposition from House conservatives and shake up a polarized immigration debate.
“I’m the first Republican,” he said in an interview. “I expect more to come on board.”
With fewer than 20 working days left in the year and Congress focused largely on high-stakes budget negotiations, some House Republicans have argued in recent days that they won’t have time to debate immigration this year. Asked in a Bloomberg TV interview over the weekend if a broad immigration overhaul stood a chance of passing in the coming weeks, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said flatly, “No.”
Denham’s announcement comes as Democrats and immigrant advocates are trying to force House Speaker John A. Boehner’s (R-Ohio) hand on the issue. Key to their strategy is a new compromise bill designed to lure away enough centrist GOP members that the speaker would feel compelled to allow a vote of the full chamber — just as he did to end the government shutdown and avoid a financial default.
If Boehner were to refuse to allow an immigration vote, Democrats say, they could blame him and Republicans for blocking a “bipartisan” bill on the campaign trail next year .
It's going to be bad enough for the GOP with the shutdown, but the shutdown plus killing immigration yet again will finish off enough purple district Republicans that the Dems take back the House, and they're not going down with Ted Cruz and company. So by all means, GOP "purists", primary people like Denham with rabid, racist, anti-immigrant lunatics and we'll happily turn those purple districts blue for you.