House Republicans Warn That They Will Obstruct Guns and Immigration Bills

GOP NO2

Over the course of the past four years, the idea that government can do anything to improve the quality of American people’s lives either in terms of economics, social justice, or providing services to the people has been met with non-stop hindrance and opposition to interrupt progress on the population’s behalf. It is true that ideological differences between the two parties in Washington precludes unanimous consent to pass legislation regardless the party in power, but Republicans have made it a condition of service to oppose any and everything President Obama or Democrats proposed regardless the population’s overwhelming support for their agenda.  It has made little difference whether Republicans were in the minority in the President’s first two years in office, or whether they controlled only one house in Congress, their primary goal is obstructing progress for obstruction’s sake and little else. A little over a month ago, Speaker of the House John Boehner chastised the Democratically-controlled Senate for not taking the lead on preventing the Republican’s sequester from being enacted, but whatever the Senate may have accomplished was fated dead on arrival in the Republican House, and now that the Senate is making progress on two very important issues to the American people, Boehner’s conservative caucus is ready to obstruct immigration reform and gun safety legislation because it is contrary to their ideology.

Last week, days before the tragic terror attack at the Boston Marathon, teabaggers in the House warned their leadership that despite an impending deal coming out of the Senate, putting immigration reform on the House agenda would be met with opposition and they told Boehner to slow down. Leading the charge against immigration reform is longtime anti-immigration advocate Steve King (R-IA) who said, “Up on our agenda came immigration … leadership is going to bring immigration, according to the agenda, sometime to the floor. How do we know we’re going to do immigration? How come I don’t know this?” King was not alone criticizing the idea the House would take up a Senate proposal to reform immigration, and as media reports emerged that a Senate deal was imminent, a number of House conservatives informed leadership they would not be steamrolled by the upper chamber. Referring to the so-called “gang of eight” in the Senate, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala) said, “Keep in mind, it’s just eight people. It’s not sanctioned by anybody; it’s going to be very difficult for me to agree to ratify illegal conduct.”

King’s opposition to immigration reform is legendary, and his comments last week were expository of his anti-immigration stance that led him to assail immigration reform in light of the Boston terror attack he used as a threat to kill any deal coming out of the Senate. King said, “Some of the speculation that has come out is that yes, it was a foreign national and, speculating here, that it was potentially a person on a student visa, if that’s the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture,” and that on immigration, the nation’s security demanded that any discussion regarding a path to legalization should be put on hold because “we need to be ever vigilant, we need to go far deeper into our border crossings.” Representative Brooks echoed King’s stalling tactic and said immigration issues “deserve adequate time for discussion” and warned the House leadership that “Republicans in the House need to be convinced that border security issue is addressed, not in the future but now. You’ve seen the Senate pushing a deadline, and you have never seen the House pushing a deadline because we realize how difficult it is to get final agreement on those last few issues.” Translation; conservatives will obstruct immigration reform.

There is a similar situation developing on gun safety legislation, and despite what Republicans and Democrats in the Senate compromise on, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) issued a warning to Boehner not to bring a firearm bill to the floor. Stockman penned an op-ed in The Hill contending that “President Obama and the Astroturf anti-gun agenda are leading his party into political oblivion, and Boehner is missing an opportunity to solidify and rally a voting and activist base of millions.” Stockman must not be aware that an overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans and NRA members, support expanding gun safety laws despite the NRA’s contention that Americans should be armed and dangerous regardless if they have a criminal background, mental illness, or buy assault weapons over the Internet or from unregistered gun sellers. The House Republicans are not going to act on gun safety legislation because it does not fit into their worldview that a heavily armed populace is necessary to enrich the firearm industry, and feeling pressure from the Senate appears to strengthen their resolve to block gun safety legislation.

On Monday, House Republicans began conspiring on how best to delay and weaken any Senate legislation they see as limiting Americans’ right to bear arms besides warning Boehner to kill any gun safety bill passed by the Senate by refusing to take action on it. Boehner appears more than happy to comply with House gun zealots and is reportedly planning what promises to be a months-long review of the Senate bill that involves chipping away at gun-related measures while pushing for proposals to identify and treat the mentally ill as the best hope to reduce gun violence. Republicans in the House are following NRA spokesman Wayne La Pierre’s directive to focus on mentally ill criminals as the bipartisan Senate plan to expand background checks gained momentum. The insanity of honing in on criminals with mental issues without being able to do background checks is lost on any sane human being, but when obstruction is the order of the day and obeisance to the gun lobby is requisite to be a Republican, any reason to obstruct measures that protect the population is salient to recalcitrant Republicans.

The idea of obstructing immigration reform and gun safety measures contrasts the will of the people according to a new poll that revealed most Americans, including half of all gun owners, say it is reasonable enact new laws without infringing on gun ownership rights, and overwhelming majorities support expanded background checks at gun shows and for online gun sales. On the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, nearly two-thirds of Americans support legislation that includes a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., and yet House Republicans are intent on killing any Senate legislation because as anti-immigration crusader Steve King says, “we need to be ever vigilant and go far deeper into our border crossings” because of speculation the Boston Bomber “was a foreign national and potentially a person on a student visa.” It is little wonder the poll also revealed that 70% of Americans, and nearly half of all self-identified Republicans, believe Republicans are significantly out of touch and the party as a group is disconnected from the mainstream.

The Republicans in the House have exceeded being out of touch and disconnected from America, and they are the sole reason why government is not working for the people. It is one thing to have ideological differences on policy and how best to solve the nation’s problems, but Republicans made it their life’s mission to obstruct intelligent debate and discussion on every issue whether it is immigration reform or creating jobs, and until they are evicted from Congress, particularly the House, government will not function and that has been their goal for over four years.

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