Immigration Inaction Will Haunt GOP in Election: Crowley

Republicans will suffer in this
year’s elections if the U.S. House doesn’t pass a comprehensive
immigration plan because voters may doubt they’ll ever do it,
said Democratic Representative Joe Crowley of New York.

Republican leaders “have come up with a lot of excuses”
for not advancing immigration legislation, Crowley, the fifth-ranking House Democrat, said in an interview yesterday at
Bloomberg News in New York.

“If we don’t get something done between now and July,
there’s really no time left to get something done” as lawmakers
focus on campaigning for November’s vote, said Crowley. “And
that’s something I think they’ll pay dearly for at the polls.”

The Senate passed a bill last year, S. 744, that would
increase border security while providing a pathway to
citizenship for most of the estimated 11 million undocumented
workers in the U.S.

House Republican leaders said they wouldn’t take up the
Senate bill, and in January they released a list of principles
for piecemeal immigration legislation, starting with border
security. House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, later
said it would be difficult to pass a bill because members of his
caucus don’t trust President Barack Obama to enforce the law.

Crowley said action on immigration “really comes down to
Speaker Boehner” and whether he’ll allow a vote on a bill that
could pass with mostly Democratic votes. “That’s what we’ve
done on just about any major piece of legislation in the House
the past few years,” he said.

‘Broken’ System

“As the speaker has said, the need to fix our broken
immigration system is clear,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel
said in an e-mail, “but, at this point, neither Congress nor
the American people trust the president to enforce the law as
written. It is difficult to see how we make progress until that

Crowley, 52, was first elected to the House in 1998 and
represents a district comprising parts of New York City’s Bronx
and Queens boroughs. His district overwhelmingly backs
immigration law changes, he said. Crowley was arrested in
October at a rally near the Capitol demanding action on
immigration legislation.

Although business groups including the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce support immigration legislation, Crowley said many
Republicans, including those running in primaries trying to
appeal to the limited government Tea Party movement, have
“poisoned the well” in their party for passing an immigration

‘Dead Body’

Representative Paul Broun, seeking a Senate nomination in
Georgia in a primary in which two other two other House
also are running, said at a debate this week that a
bill including what he called amnesty for undocumented
immigrants would only pass “over my dead body.”

“No amnesty,” said Phil Gingrey, one of the other House
Republicans vying for the open Georgia Senate seat. “Never.”

Crowley said immigration is one of several issues where
Republicans will be hurt in the November midterm elections
because the party doesn’t have a vision for the country. Most
major bills that have cleared the House this year, including
domestic violence prevention legislation and raising the U.S.
debt limit, have relied on Democrats to pass.

“The Republican Party shut down the United States
government for over two weeks; that’s the accomplishment on
their side,” Crowley said, referring to the partial closure of
the government last October in a fiscal standoff with Obama.

Tax Proposal

On the push to revise the U.S. tax code, Crowley said House
leaders probably won’t bring up a proposal by Ways and Means
Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican who isn’t seeking re-election, that would lower tax rates and curtail dozens of tax

“I don’t see the Camp bill moving,” said Crowley, a
member of the Ways and Means Committee.

House Republican leaders, in touting their performance,
point to 224 bills the chamber has passed — addressing job
training, easing regulations and boosting energy production –
that the Senate hasn’t taken action on, according to a bill
from the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a
Virginia Republican. Another 99 have been signed into law.

Democrats hold 199 House seats to 233 for Republicans, with
three seats vacant. While most nonpartisan analysts rate the
Republicans as heavy favorites to keep their majority, Crowley
said he believes Democratic chances are good in November.

“I just think we’re going to win back the House,” he
said. “I’m going to guess we’ll have at least 19 seats” as a
net gain.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Derek Wallbank in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jodi Schneider at
Laurie Asseo, Don Frederick

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Immigration Inaction Will Haunt GOP in Election: Crowley
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