At a press conference to announce formal opposition to the Senate immigration bill, Iowa Republican representative Steve King said that if he were somehow forced to choose between that bill and Obamacare, he’d pick the latter.
“You all know how badly I despise Obamacare,” King told reporters. “I despise that bill . . . it’s terrible . . . but if it was somehow it was an offer that you’re going to get one or the other, and you have to choose one, I would take Obamacare and try to live with that before I’d ever accept this amnesty plan.
“This amnesty plan is far, far worse than Obamacare. That genie cannot be put back in the bottle,” King explained. ”We can repeal Obamacare. We can over time pay for it. We can over time get back our doctor-patient relationship. But, if this amnesty goes through, there’s no undoing it. The genie of the left will have escaped from that bottle and he will be as amorphous as a puff of smoke,” he said.
Five fellow House Republicans at the event had similarly strong language in denouncing the bill they deem an amnesty. Texas representative Steve Stockman said that, although the Senate gang has considerable political momentum now, “we’re gonna have a gang of millions” of American citizens who rise up in opposition against the bill. Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama said “I cannot in good conscience ratify illegal conduct.”
While the immigration bill is making progress in the Senate, the House is a different picture. For one, judiciary-committee chairman Bob Goodlatte enjoys a level of trust from the conservatives. King, for instance, called Goodlatte “smart man with a good set of values.”
A worst-case scenario for opponents, as King sketched it out: The Senate passes the Gang of Eight bill, and the House passes a far more modest bill on the topic, say, requiring E-Verify. But then, Speaker John Boehner would appoint conferees for the two chambers to rectify the differences between their two bills.
“That conference committee could produce from it some version of the amnesty bill and send it to the floor, unamendable, an up-or-down vote, in which case, every Democrat would vote for it, it would only take a couple of dozen Republicans, and we could be stuck with a very bad bill on the way to the president. So I’m most concerned about that,” King said.
Boehner has violated the so-called “Hastert rule,” a operating principle implemented by former speaker Dennis Hastert in which he tried to only bring forward bills that enjoyed support from the “majority of the majority” (the speaker’s party), several times already this Congress and at a faster rate than either Hastert or former speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But most close observers of the House consider that move unlikely on the polarizing issue of immigration. “On a list of worrisome scenarios, this ranks somewhere between being struck by lightning and stung to death by killer bees,” said a House GOP leadership aide.