Republicans risking conservative backlash over immigration - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Republicans risking conservative backlash over immigration

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK, NY -

The push toward immigration votes in the House is intensifying the divide among Republicans on one of the party’s most animating issues and fueling concerns that a voter backlash could cost the GOP control of the House in November.

To many conservatives, the compromise immigration proposal released this past week by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is little more than “amnesty.”

One tea party group described the Republican plan as “the final betrayal.” Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, who is close to President Donald Trump, tweeted Friday that Ryan is “trying to open our borders even more and give illegal immigrants the biggest amnesty in American history.”

The tension threatens to exacerbate the GOP’s political challenges this fall, when their majorities in the House and Senate could be at risk.

Passage of the bill could alienate conservatives and depress turnout at a time when enthusiasm among Democrats is high. Yet scuttling the bill could turn off independent voters, an especially important bloc for House Republicans competing in dozens of districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election.

“The GOP’s in a tough spot,” said Republican pollster Frank Luntz. “The hardcore Trump voter has a different point of view than the ever-important independent voter, and there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.”

The draft legislation, resulting from intense negotiations between moderates and conservatives, includes a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million young immigrants in the country illegally. The plan includes $25 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and other security measures sought by the White House.

“While the bill contains some positive provisions, including full funding for the border wall and closing loopholes in current law that sustain illegal border surges, it is still a mass amnesty,” said RJ Hauman, of the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform.

“This bill hardly fulfills President Trump’s bold promise to fix immigration, and sure isn’t a winning message for the GOP in the midterms,” Hauman said.

Republicans had trumpeted Trump’s support for the plan, yet he told reporters early Friday he would not sign it if it reached his desk. Later in the day, the White House said he was confused by a reporter’s question and clarified his support.

Skittish conservative lawmakers have indicated there’s little chance they would support the current plan unless Trump were to give it a full embrace — a tall order, given the confusion Friday about the president’s position.

“House Republicans are not going to take on immigration without the support and endorsement of President Trump,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the GOP’s chief deputy vote counter.

The politics of the immigration debate have grown more heated since the administration adopted a “zero tolerance” approach at the Southern border. The policy is leading to an increase in the number of detained immigrants being separated from their children.

Trump has tried to blame Democrats for his own administration’s policy, tweeting Saturday that they “can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!”

Facing a national uproar, House GOP leaders included a provision in the immigration proposal that would require families to be kept together for as long as they are in the custody of the Homeland Security Department.

The proposed fix won approval from moderate House Republicans locked in difficult re-election battles, but not from Republican Senate candidates running competitive races in GOP-leaning states. None spoke in support of the bill.

“We’re studying the proposal,” said Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, who is viewed as the GOP establishment’s favorite in one of the top Senate races. “I try not get swayed by what the emotions are or the pressure. I really try to look at the policy issues.”

Kelli Ward, one of McSally’s main opponents in the Arizona Senate primary on Aug. 28, was more scathing in her assessment.

“Compromising on the rule of law to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is the wrong path to take,” she said of the House plan. “Congress should focus on border security and stop talking about amnesty as a solution.”

In Pennsylvania, Rep. Lou Barletta, the Republican nominee against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey took an equally aggressive approach against his own party’s immigration plan.

“I hate it,” he told The Associated Press. “What does it accomplish? It’s amnesty.”

Barletta said he has compassion for the children caught up in the immigration debate. But he said he wouldn’t support an immigration bill unless it also blocked employers from hiring immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, eliminated “sanctuary cities” and ended family-based migration.

Barletta said his party should “absolutely” fear a political backlash from its base this fall should Republicans push through the current compromise.

Other high-profile Republican candidates avoided questions about the immigration plan altogether, highlighting the political sensitivity of the issue.

The Republicans who declined to comment or ignored AP questions included Senate candidates Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Braun of Indiana and Matt Rosendale of Montana.

In an election year in which Democrats appear to have an advantage on voter enthusiasm, Republicans can ill afford to alienate any voters this fall, particularly their most passionate supporters.

Former White House counselor Steve Bannon lobbied against the compromise in private meetings with House conservatives earlier this past week.

He warned that Republicans “will lose the House and Trump will be impeached” if the House backs the new measure, according to Iowa Rep. Steve King, an immigration hard-liner who was in attendance.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Motorcyclist killed in crash on Sherman Pass

    Motorcyclist killed in crash on Sherman Pass

    Monday, July 16 2018 1:58 AM EDT2018-07-16 05:58:31 GMT

    SHERMAN PASS, Wash.- A 53-year-old man was killed Sunday after a crash involving a motorcycle and transit van. The crash happened on State Route 20, just before 6pm on Sunday, about 14 miles east of Republic.

    >>

    SHERMAN PASS, Wash.- A 53-year-old man was killed Sunday after a crash involving a motorcycle and transit van. The crash happened on State Route 20, just before 6pm on Sunday, about 14 miles east of Republic.

    >>
  • Firefighter mauled by pit bull at scene of house fire

    Firefighter mauled by pit bull at scene of house fire

    Sunday, July 15 2018 3:47 PM EDT2018-07-15 19:47:12 GMT

    SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (AP) - Authorities say a Northern California firefighter was mauled in the face by a pit bull after helping extinguish a house fire.    The East Bay Times reports Alameda County Fire Battalion Chief John Whiting received "extremely severe facial damage" in the attack Saturday in San Leandro.    Division Chief Alan Evans says Whiting required extensive reconstructive surgery.

    >>

    SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (AP) - Authorities say a Northern California firefighter was mauled in the face by a pit bull after helping extinguish a house fire.    The East Bay Times reports Alameda County Fire Battalion Chief John Whiting received "extremely severe facial damage" in the attack Saturday in San Leandro.    Division Chief Alan Evans says Whiting required extensive reconstructive surgery.

    >>
  • Instructor, two students killed in training aircraft crash near Deer Park

    Instructor, two students killed in training aircraft crash near Deer Park

    Friday, July 13 2018 8:36 PM EDT2018-07-14 00:36:49 GMT

    DEER PARK, Wash. - In a statement on its Facebook page Friday evening, Moody Aviation in Spokane confirmed that three people died in a plane crash near Deer Park Friday morning.

    >>

    DEER PARK, Wash. - In a statement on its Facebook page Friday evening, Moody Aviation in Spokane confirmed that three people died in a plane crash near Deer Park Friday morning.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Lava flies through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 13

    Lava flies through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 13

    Monday, July 16 2018 4:11 PM EDT2018-07-16 20:11:36 GMT

    HONOLULU - Hawaii officials say an explosion sent lava flying through the roof of a tour boat off the Big Island, injuring at least 13 people. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said one passenger broke a leg Monday and others have been burned. It says the full extent of injuries isn't yet known.

    >>

    HONOLULU - Hawaii officials say an explosion sent lava flying through the roof of a tour boat off the Big Island, injuring at least 13 people. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said one passenger broke a leg Monday and others have been burned. It says the full extent of injuries isn't yet known.

    >>
  • Judge: Psychologists can visit man charged in mass stabbing

    Judge: Psychologists can visit man charged in mass stabbing

    Monday, July 16 2018 4:07 PM EDT2018-07-16 20:07:43 GMT

    BOISE, Idaho - An Idaho judge says psychologists can have jailhouse access to a man charged with murder and several other felonies in connection with a knife attack at a Boise apartment complex.  

    >>

    BOISE, Idaho - An Idaho judge says psychologists can have jailhouse access to a man charged with murder and several other felonies in connection with a knife attack at a Boise apartment complex.  Timmy Kinner, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the stabbing death of 3-year-old Ruya Kadir. He's also charged with multiple counts of aggravated battery in connection with the June 30 attack that injured eight others.    

    >>
  • World's largest bounce house coming to Post Falls

    World's largest bounce house coming to Post Falls

    Monday, July 16 2018 3:56 PM EDT2018-07-16 19:56:44 GMT

    POST FALLS, Idaho - The world's largest bounce house is coming to Post Falls at the end of the month!  The Guinness World Records' title holder for the largest bounce house in the world will be making at stop at the Greyhound Park & Event Center July 27th-29th on The Big Bounce America tour.  The inflatable structure is 10,000 square feet and 32 feet tall. 

    >>

    POST FALLS, Idaho - The world's largest bounce house is coming to Post Falls at the end of the month!  The Guinness World Records' title holder for the largest bounce house in the world will be making at stop at the Greyhound Park & Event Center July 27th-29th on The Big Bounce America tour.  The inflatable structure is 10,000 square feet and 32 feet tall. 

    >>