The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives got a strong message from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday: pass immigration reform, or give up on winning the 2016 presidential election.
“If the Republicans don’t do it (immigration reform) they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016. I mean, think about that. Think about who the voters are,” Chamber president Tom Donohue said Monday.
The Chamber’s position on comprehensive immigration reform puts the GOP in a precarious position. On one side is the chamber and the large business interests it represents that are key to GOP campaigns. On the other are the tea party and more conservative wings of the party that are fighting any immigration reform.
The Chamber negotiated worker requirements with the AFL-CIO that helped push the comprehensive immigration reform bill through the Senate last year. Republicans in the Senate joined to pass the bill by a large margin.
When the bill got to the House, it was deemed dead on arrival. House leadership didn’t want to tackle the issue during the mid-term elections this year. That’s left immigration reform twisting in the wind, but there may be a window to get things done.
Once the primaries are over for sitting candidates, it’s possible the House tries to move some of the legislation through piecemeal. Still, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hasn’t said if he’s willing to put any form of immigration reform on the table.
Until the GOP moves in the House, Democrats will continue to use immigration reform as a wedge issue against Republican candidates.