ISTOOK: Amnesty effort remains alive in House GOP leadership despite Cantor defeat

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We who oppose amnesty had better not let our guard down.

That warning was echoed Friday by a leading foe of amnesty for illegal aliens, Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, during his guest appearance on “The Ernest Istook Show” on The Washington Times Radio Network.

House Republican leaders have not backed away from possible efforts to push pro-amnesty legislation. Only a relative handful of GOP votes would be needed to pass it, when combined with overwhelming support from Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Despite the primary election defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, the likely successor tilts more strongly than Cantor toward pro-amnesty legislation, says King, commenting about Rep. Kevin McCarthy, California Republican: “If it’s a shift, it’s a shift to the left, not to the right, not to conservative principles. Kevin McCarthy has been clear that he’s supportive of the Senate’s ‘Gang of Eight’ amnesty bill that is instantaneous and perpetual and retro amnesty.”

[UPDATE: Rep. McCarthy’s spokesman, Mike Long, said Monday that McCarthy opposes the Senate Gang of Eight bill and also opposes going to a House-Senate conference on that legislation.]

King says on immigration and other key conservative issues, “those things will not get stronger; they’ll get weaker.”

McCarthy is expected to succeed Cantor and advance from his current position as House majority whip when House Republicans hold a succession election this Thursday. King criticized House leaders for rushing the GOP into a “snap election” that enables insiders to outmaneuver other possible contenders.

That rapid maneuvering led possible contender Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Texas Republican, not to try and another contender, Rep. Pete Sessions, Texas Republican, announced last Thursday that he was dropping from the race, leaving only McCarthy in contention by Friday morning.

McCarthy, King says, used the whip team to launch his effort by Tuesday midnight after Cantor’s June 10th loss. Cantor by Wednesday noon signaled an intent to depart his position early, on July 31, rather than at the end of his term. Later that day, just 15 minutes after a formal announcement in which Cantor endorsed McCarthy, House Speaker John Boehner called for a June 19 replacement election.

“We hardly had time to begin to talk to each other,” said King. “It’s a massive amount of control by existing House leaders … Strategically it’s a classic example of the power of leadership. This is the power of the speaker’s office, the majority leader’s office, and the whip team, all the machinery of the House of Representatives launched in one direction.”

“I don’t think they got the message, and if they’re prepared to move a pro-amnesty whip into the majority leader’s position in the heavy-handed fashion they have, then I don’t think they got the message at all. I think they’re making things worse, not better.”

After King’s radio appearance, Rep. Raul Labrador, Idaho Republican, announced he would try for the majority leader position. However, King released a comment criticizing Labrador as also not being solidly against amnesty.

King told listeners that amnesty in the House of Representatives is “not dead at all.” Those who expected Cantor’s defeat to bring a change in leadership’s direction, he said, will be “sadly disappointed.”

Listen to the full interview with Rep. Steve King here.

Listen to the Ernest Istook Show every weekday from noon to 3 p.m. Eastern time, online at www.kzlsam.com

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About the Author
Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard’s Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today.

Now as a radio host and ...

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