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Eric Cantor has released the summer legislative agenda for the House and it is as notable for what is not on it as what it includes:
Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out a busy legislative agenda for the remainder of June in a memo to House Republicans sent Friday, scheduling floor time to address issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs, three appropriations bills, three tax extender bills, and legislation to make gas and other energy prices cheaper. Notably absent from the agenda: any mention of immigration, an unemployment extension or the expiring Export-Import Bank.
As would be expected, there is a mix of good an bad coming down the pike. Good like reining in some regulatory agencies and streamlining various federally funded job training programs, bad like the inevitable pork fest that attends any discussion of the federal Highway Trust Fund. While it is disappointing to see the Ex-Im bank dodge the bullet, ending the extended unemployment benefits, taking immigration off the table, and an election year focus on the downsides of Obamacare are positives.
Naturally, any agenda that doesn’t have the spectacle of Republican fratricide baked in gets leftwing panties in a twist. This from Media Matters “Research Fellow” Simon Maloy writing at the failed group blog, Salon:
There was never much hope of Cantor budging on immigration reform, but it certainly didn’t help that he’s come under fire in the last few weeks by Tea Party conservatives who suspect that he’s secretly working to implement “amnesty.” Cantor is facing a primary challenge from economics professor David Brat, who attacks Cantor mercilessly for his work on the Kids Act (the Republican-friendly version of the Dream Act). Cantor will defeat Brat and he’ll defeat him handily, but he still needs to take him seriously because Brat is pulling in support from influential conservative figures like radio host Laura Ingraham. Part of Cantor’s strategy has been to highlight how he’s fought “amnesty” for “illegal aliens.”
So he’s not going to lose, but he’s still had to shift to the right to try to make amends with the conservatives who are deeply suspicious that any attempt at reform will be too lenient on undocumented immigrants. Cantor’s facing a no-win situation on immigration reform, and for now the best option for him politically is to do nothing, so he’s killing immigration reform through inaction.
While we’re on the topic of conservatives pressuring the leadership on hot-button issues, Cantor’s June memo is also noteworthy for what it says about healthcare reform. Early last month, the House Republicans unexpectedly went dark on Obamacare – after years of hearings and countless repeal votes, legislators suddenly seemed to lose interest in the health law. According to Cantor’s memo, the cease-fire will come to an end as the House GOP plans to do … something on healthcare:
Our committees continue to work to expose the harmful effects of Obamacare and refine different policies that reduce costs, expand access and provide patients with greater control over their healthcare. We will be discussing these policy options with you in the weeks ahead in anticipation of additional floor action.
Cantor’s vague promise to discuss unnamed “policy options” comes on the heels of an effort by the hard-line conservative Republican Study Committee to force the leadership into scheduling a vote on the RSC’s Obamacare replacement plan.
Emperor Barack I has announced via his senile court jester, Harry Reid, that if the GOP doesn’t give him what he wants by the August recess he will have to act on his own to change the law to his liking:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that the Obama administration will have to act alone on stemming deportations if the House doesn’t move on immigration reform by this summer’s end.
The comments from Reid appeared to be the most definitive that the Senate’s top Democrat has given on the politically thorny question of whether the administration should use executive authority to halt deportations. That’s a top demand of pro-reform advocates, particularly from those who are skeptical the House will end up doing anything on immigration this year.
Cantor’s refusal to be bullied into taking up the horrendously flawed Senate immigration “reform” bill is a good sign that the House is still willing to fight. It is also a sign that those who think conservative/tea party movement is dead are only fooling themselves.