WASHINGTON – Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is confident lawmakers can come up with a genuine fix for the border crisis, telling WND Thursday evening, “Conservatives are on the way to saving this bill.”
The bill she is referring to had already died earlier in the day, when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, shelved it after realizing he did not have enough votes.
It then appeared the House would not take up a border bill until after the month-long August recess.
But, enough rank-and-file Republicans then complained to Boehner that they couldn’t go home to face angry voters without even voting on a bill to address the border crisis, that Boehner summoned GOP lawmakers for a hastily assembled meeting at 3 p.m. to reconsider the bill.
GOP House members will meet again Friday at 9 a.m. EST to see if they can agree on a revised version of the bill.
Bachmann strongly believes her fellow Republicans can come up with a plan good enough for conservatives to support.
“We are going to get to yes. I’m quite confident,” she told WND.
Bachmann’s optimism is a far cry from what conservatives had been saying earlier, despondent over a bill they saw as hopeless and GOP leadership they saw as unresponsive.
As a highly placed Capitol Hill source predicted to WND in the morning, the House failed to pass the bill Thursday afternoon that GOP leaders had touted as a fix to the border crisis because Boehner could not attract enough support among his fellow Republican lawmakers to even bring it up for a vote.
Opponents said the original bill was fatally flawed because it did not:
- Stop the flood of illegal immigrants crossing the border.
- Stop the prospect of President Obama issuing an executive order to declare amnesty for another 5-to-6 million illegal immigrants.
- Repeal amnesty for illegal immigrant who arrived as minors, granted under Obama’s executive order called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
- Close the border.
In a rare display of direct democracy, it was apparently conservative voters who had earlier killed the bill.
There were numerous reports of angry constituents “melting the phone lines” to express their strong disapproval of the bill, and they apparently convinced enough Republican lawmakers to kill the bill by shelving it.
Harnessing the power of the grassroots is a tactic that’s worked before.
Bachmann told WND a year ago that melting the phone lines was the key to stopping amnesty, which she called a threat to the republic.
The congresswoman said it was a huge backlash by the conservative grassroots in 2007 that caused voters to jam the phone lines on Capitol Hill and stop the amnesty bill introduced by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the late Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
She said the 2007 amnesty bill caused even more outrage among voters than Obamacare.
Melting the phone lines is exactly what opponents of the House immigration bill, such as Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had asked voters to do.
It was really the only card outnumbered conservatives had to play, and they apparently played it effectively enough to kill the House bill.
The source who had predicted to WND that the House bill was “dead on arrival” because GOP leaders were not serious about stopping illegal immigration was at a strategy meeting Wednesday night held by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and conservative lawmakers.
The original bill Boehner was pushing as a fix to the border crisis, according to the source, was just an exercise in futility and an attempt by GOP leaders to be seen as doing something.
The insider said the main problem was a poorly written bill assembled by someone who favors so-called “comprehensive immigration reform,” or amnesty, so it was entirely unacceptable to conservatives.
It had “huge holes you could drive a truck through,” he said.
According to this person, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, showed up to the meeting “extremely well-prepared, as he always is,” with a copy of the 44-page bill dotted with yellow tabs in numerous spots where he found elements of the bill objectionable.
Of particular concern to conservatives was that the bill did nothing to prevent amnesty and did not address the need to deport the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who had streamed across the border in just the last year.
To try to gain conservative support, Boehner offered to allow a vote on a bill that would prevent President Obama from expanding DACA, which unilaterally granted amnesty to illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors. But that attempt did not work.
Conservatives were tremendously concerned that if they did not pass any legislation to oppose him, Obama could just issue an executive order to expand DACA to adults, and thereby grant amnesty to 5-to-6 million illegal immigrants already in the country, as the White House has strongly suggested he plans to do.
Cruz has said he believes DACA is the cause of the current crisis, in which almost 60,000 illegal immigrant children have recently streamed across the border.
Lawmakers have told WND that the Border Patrol is telling them that the overwhelming majority of those children believe they will be receiving amnesty.
“The only way to stop the border crisis is to stop Obama’s amnesty. It is disappointing the border security legislation unveiled today does not include language to end Obama’s amnesty,” said Cruz on Tuesday. “Congress cannot hope to solve this problem without addressing the fundamental cause of it.”
WND’s source said, at Wednesday evening’s meeting, Cruz made comments about the ideas thrown around the table but did not “run the show,” and “that’s the way it is in all such meetings” between the senator and House conservatives. Cruz does not act like “the svengali as portrayed by Politico.”
The source did say Cruz cautioned conservatives that they must remember, immigration is “Obama’s baby.”
Some conservatives are still urging caution and want “to tread carefully” on the immigration bill.
“I think the goal of Harry Reid and Obama is to embarrass and blame Republicans. That has always been their goal,” Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, told WND on Thursday evening.
He added, “We have to avoid becoming pawns for the fall election. Obama has driven this car into the ditch. The last thing we want to do is to hop behind the steering wheel.”
Of great frustration to conservatives is that most American are overwhelmingly on their side, making them all the more upset when the Republican leadership doesn’t confront Obama.
An AP poll shows 68 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of the immigration issue. A CNN poll shows 51 percent of Americans believe the government should focus first on deporting illegal immigrants and stopping more of them at the border.
Conservatives privately fear that the reason Boehner’s bill did nothing to address the prospect of amnesty is that the speaker is actually in agreement with Obama and would like to see millions of illegal immigrants given legal status.
The source did note the bill was opposed by William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, who is often thought to side more with establishment Republicans.
Among a laundry list of objections, Kristol wrote, “[I]t seems to appropriate more money, on a pro-rated monthly basis, than the president’s proposal; that it might well make it harder, not easier, to send some or all of the illegal migrants back; that it changes the asylum laws in ways that might well backfire; and that it doesn’t deal in any way the core cause of the problem, the president’s 2012 executive amnesty for minors or his pending huge expansion of that amnesty.”
The Democrat-controlled Senate is also working on an immigration bill, but it’s expected to have virtually no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House.
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