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Immigration Plan Questioned

One aide to a conservative Republican called the move “a wasted opportunity” because the GOP would have hugely benefitted from agitating Democratic divisions on immigration. If not that, the aide said, leadership should have at least used the motion for something “message-friendly,” such as forcing a vote to give all Americans the same health care plans as Members of Congress.

“Whoever thought this was a good motion to recommit is a freaking moron, and we will be in the minority forever because of stuff like this,” the aide said. “They are fools, pure and simple. ... Our leadership dropped the ball.”

Aides to other rank-and-file Republicans said they felt GOP leaders made a mistake by not linking immigration to the motion, a decision made about half an hour before the vote.

One GOP aide griped that Republican leaders used the bill for “playing politics to gain seats for their own benefit rather than going all out to kill it.”

But the GOP leadership aide said not to discount the effect of a vote against tort reform and for Medicare cuts.

“Let’s not pull punches here: This was a devastating vote for vulnerable Democrats, and there will be seats lost for Democrats and gained by Republicans because of this narrative,” the aide said. “Expect a campaign commercial in every district highlighting the Democrats’ abandonment of seniors.”

Specifically, future ads will target freshman Democratic Reps. Tom Perriello (Va.), Glenn Nye (Va.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio) and Alan Grayson (Fla.), among others, the aide said.

Regardless of whether it was part of their calculus, GOP leaders provided shelter to Hispanic Republicans by avoiding the immigration vote. At least one Member, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), indicated during the Rules Committee debate on the bill that he would oppose any motion to limit the rights of illegal immigrants to buy their own insurance.

House Democratic leaders and Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were overjoyed that Republicans punted on an issue that stood to divide their caucus and potentially kill their top priority.

“I was very pleased I didn’t have to worry about that one tonight,” Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said. “I don’t know if it was a mistake or not because I don’t know exactly why they did it.”

Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said she also expected the motion to be on immigration and didn’t know why Republicans went with tort reform. “Somebody said they hated trial lawyers worse than they hated illegals, but I don’t know if that’s true,” she said.

CHC Members spent the entire day “preparing ourselves to defeat any motion to recommit that would bring this up,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), chairman of the CHC Immigration Task Force.

Gutierrez speculated that GOP leaders ultimately decided against the immigration vote because “I think they figured out they might lose. You don’t want to lose on something that’s your bread and butter.”

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