GOP Sen.-elect Cory Gardner appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos yesterday, in one of his first national media appearances since his victory last Tuesday. For many viewers who haven't followed the Colorado U.S. Senate race closely, this was a chance to see the much-balleyhooed Colorado Republican wunderkind in action:
“I think it’s important that Republicans show that we can govern maturely, that we can govern with competence,” Gardner added. “And if we do that, in two years from now, we’ll have a good result again with our nominee. If we don’t, we’ll see the same results two years from now, but in a different direction.”
Gardner struck a conciliatory tone on “This Week,” saying that shutting down the government “is a bad idea anytime, anywhere” and that although he supports repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, it was not a feasible option while President Obama still occupies the White House…
So far so good, right? At this point, we take Gardner at his word when he says that shutting down the government is a bad idea: it's what he believes now, at any rate. But on the topic most likely to come up in Washington over the next few weeks–Gardner's last few weeks in the U.S. House–old-fashioned finger-pointing intransigence seems set to prevail once again no matter what Gardner says:
Gardner said he hopes President Obama will “do the right thing” and work with Congress on immigration reform rather than taking executive action on his own before the end of the year.
“The question is this: Will the president do the right thing? And I think the president will do the right thing when it comes to immigration reform. And that is working with the House and the Senate instead of going around the House and the Senate,” Gardner said.
It's important to understand the different messages coming from different Republicans right now on immigration reform, and how they essentially guarantee inaction. Republicans are universally opposed to any executive action President Barack Obama may take. At the same time, the President's delay of such action until after the now-over election season greatly upset immigration reform proponents, who view the consequences of each day of inaction to be disastrous. The dramatic increase of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S. border is just the latest symptom of a crisis that has been building for almost three decades.
With that in mind, you'd think Republicans would be singing Gardner's tune about passing some legislation without delay, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who was heavily involved in efforts to achieve immigration reform in the House earlier this year, said that the lame duck simply does not offer enough space for such a complicated issue.
“No, not in the lame duck,” he said when Breitbart News asked him about the prospect of immigration reform after the midterm elections and before the end of the year…
House Speaker John Boehner has said a number of times that lawmakers simply do not trust Obama enough to move forward…
Quite the conflict being set up here: Gardner says that Obama must not not take any executive action on immigration, which Obama has vowed to do citing exigent need for action to be taken. But Republicans also say that immigration reform legislation is a nonstarter during the "lame duck" session on Congress this year. Furthermore, Speaker John Boehner says there's "no trust" from Republicans in Obama to enforce what they pass, which makes you wonder how he has any plan to work with the President at all. Not to mention, though Gardner hasn't said it (yet), that executive action by Obama on immigration has been met by threats of impeachment. If this sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen, you're probably right.
This would be a great moment for a newly-elected Senator from Colorado, with six years before his next election, to step up and underscore his fair-sounding words with action. Gardner has frequently paid empty lip service to immigration reform in the last couple of years–a "Thanksgiving tradition"–but when given the chance to support bipartisan immigration reform, Gardner has either done nothing, or in perhaps his most telling action on the issue, actually helped kill GOP Sen. Marco Rubio's reform bill when it reached the House. When Gardner tells George Stephanopoulos that he "has supported immigration reform," one must assume that support came in a form other than votes.
Gardner will have more chances to do the right thing, but this wasn't a very auspicious start.