Speaker Boehner, Down but Not Out

Published on February 20th, 2014

During his 22 years in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner has never been the American workers’ true friend. This became painfully apparent when Boehner blocked U.S. Representative Lamar Smith’s 2011 Legal Workforce Act from coming to the floor for a full House vote. Smith’s bill would have mandated E-Verify, the free, online program that confirms whether a new hire is legally authorized to work in the U.S.

Under H.R. 2885, E-Verify would have first applied to state and local governments, government contractors and companies that employed at least 10,000 workers. The bill easily passed the House Judiciary Committee. But, although it likely would have also passed the House, Boehner refused to call for a vote.

The Capitol Hill rumor mill had it that Boehner feared that any legislation that might be perceived as anti-illegal immigration would cost the GOP the Hispanic vote in the 2012 presidential election. The leading candidates at the time – Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – supported E-Verify. Skeptics, however, speculated that Boehner’s true concern was that he didn’t want to scare away generous donations to the GOP from the Chamber of Commerce and its members who profit from the cheap labor that E-Verify would curtail.

Whatever the reason, E-Verify died in the 112th Congress but has been re-introduced in 2013 as H.R. 1772.

If there’s still any doubt that Boehner’s priorities favor illegal immigration and not the American worker, look at his immigration “principles” which he recently introduced in the hope of revitalizing the dormant blanket amnesty in the House. Stripped of double-talk and the vague promises of border security, Boehner’s so-called principles would, despite sustained high unemployment, give legal status and work authorization to about 12 million illegal immigrants and more than double the number of overseas workers. These workers would be immediately eligible to compete with the 20 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job.

Luckily, at least for now, Boehner can’t convince his rank-and-file members that amnesty is the way to go. Longtime Boehner observers are convinced that he’s waiting in the tall grass to pounce again, probably during the lame duck session.

CAPS has posted an Action Alert asking you to remind your representatives that Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders should be defending U.S. workers instead of promoting an amnesty that’s bad for all Americans. Please send your message here.

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