In an interview over at Wonkblog, Democratic representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois claims that he has enough Republicans to get 218 votes in the House for comprehensive immigration reform — and not only that, he has 45 to 50 allies on the other side of the aisle.
And so what Barack Obama kept saying to me and Speaker Pelosi and everybody, every time we’d say, “Let’s organize for comprehensive immigration reform,” so they said, “Oh, slow down Luis. There aren’t 218 votes. Why don’t you just go away? Go find yourself 45, 50 Republicans and when you’ve found them, organize them, right? And have them ready to join the Democrats? Not that we’re going to help you in any way to galvanize that. Come back and talk to us.”
Well guess what? I’m back. They’re here. The 45, 50 Republicans that we were always looking for — they’re present.
Gutierrez mentions by name Republican representatives John Carter (Texas), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Sam Johnson (Texas), and Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.) as GOPers who are on board.
The congressman concedes that the Hastert Rule, under which Speaker Boehner has said he won’t bring to the floor any bill that doesn’t have majority GOP support, is a “constraint,” but one he plans to challenge.
“It’s almost too cavalier,” Gutierrez said. “‘Of course Luis, you have 218 votes, but you need a majority of the majority.’ It’s almost like, that is what is taught in basic civics in America, and why would you question it?”
“It’s the new truth,” he says. “We’re going to question that new truth. You just say, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not exactly fair. I thought the guy with the most votes wins.’”
Gutierrez predicted that the August recess, when congressmen return to their districts, would increase support for a comprehensive House immigration bill: ”August is going to be a great month. It’s going to be a month of lifting voices, and education throughout America on comprehensive immigration reform. I think that we are really ready to do it when we get back in September.”
“We’re going to get it done,” the congressman said. ”I feel very, very confident about getting it done and having [a House] bill, and moving that bill forward.”