Last night, the GOP scored greater than anticipated gains, won Senate control 52-45 and has a more powerful grasp on the House with at least 242 seats, a historic majority. At this writing some results are still pending.
The Republicans’ extraordinary showing exceeded most pollsters’ predictions and is attributable to, among his other unpopular and failed administration policies, President Obama’s repeated promises to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants through a congressional bill or, when that became impossible, to enact an executive order amnesty with his “pen and phone.” The winners hammered away at their opponents’ support of the 2013 Gang of Eight Senate bill and a blanket amnesty.
Americans can breathe a cautious sigh of relief now that with Republicans having a majority in both chambers, the amnesty threat may be diminished. Still, Americans will have to remain on alert. Too many Republican leaders have suggested that, with a Senate majority, they’ll be able to work with the GOP-controlled House to move on immigration reform.
Here’s a sampling of what influential Republicans have said in the months leading up to the election:
- House Speaker John Boehner: “I said the day after the 2012 election it was time to do immigration reform. I meant it then and I mean it today.”
- Senator Rand Paul, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said, “I also think we’ll pass immigration reform. I think that’s going to be huge in 2016. Republicans will pass immigration reform.”
- Texas Senator John Cornyn, the probable Majority Whip, suggested he’s open to a ”step by step” immigration reform process.
- Before the mid-term election, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said he’s ready to “move in the next Congress.”
- Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who will become the Senate Judiciary Chairman, promised to “start all over next year.”
- Jeb Bush thinks that if immigration reform is framed the right way, he doesn’t anticipate “a big debate in the Republican Party about the need to do this.”
In short, even though Tuesday night’s results are heartening, immigration realists need to guard against pro-amnesty Republicans as well as Democrats. But it’s important and comforting to remember that GOP pledges to proceed on amnesty have been routinely voiced for years, but then beaten back.
Since George W. Bush’s 2006 efforts to pass immigration reform, outraged Americans consistently helped crush dozens of amnesty promises made by the executive branch, congressional advocates and big business lobbyists.
The magnitude of the Republicans’ victory may make it tough for Obama to ram through the administrative amnesty he’s vowed to deliver right after the November election. Americans are strongly opposed. House Whip Kevin McCarthy promised that when Obama meets with Congress on Friday, he’ll urge the president not to circumvent the legislative process.
Between now and the end of the year, Americans will learn whether a repudiated but obstinate President Obama will risk his legacy by defying public opinion and creating a congressional showdown over his unconstitutional amnesty plans.