In defiance of public opinion, House Republicans balk at gay rights bill and immigration reform


In a sane world, you would think that legislation supported by large majorities of the American people would breeze through the House of Representatives — especially since most House members are in favor of the bills at issue.

But, of course, ours is not a sane world, as we see HERE:

By an overwhelming 2-1 margin, the U.S. Senate today passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act outlawing workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Fifty-four Democrats were joined by 10 Republicans — none of them from the South — in support of the historic legislation.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where two things are true:

— The votes exist to pass the bill, and perhaps pass it by a large margin;

— Nonetheless, House Republican leadership won’t allow those votes to be cast.

Those same two things are also true of comprehensive immigration reform, which passed by a healthy margin in the Senate only to run aground in the House. It too would pass if put to a vote. But it too has been filed in the trash bin by House leadership.

The gay rights bill and the immigration reform bill have a third thing in common as well: Both are supported by large majorities of the American people. As former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer points out in Politico, 68 percent of Americans and 56 percent of Republicans support the gay-rights bill, according to a recent GOP poll. Only 32 percent of Republicans oppose it.

Again, the same is true of immigration reform. “Our research has shown that roughly one third of Republican primary voters will never support a path to citizenship no matter what the conditions,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres told the Washington Post. “But two thirds will support a path to citizenship as long as the conditions are strict and rigorous.”

In both cases, a minority of one third of the one third of Americans who call themselves Republicans have demanded and been given the right to veto legislation that would open the doors of opportunity to all. It’s just nuts. It’s bad for the party and bad for the country. As Fleischer argues, “Politically, it’s about time for the GOP to do the right thing while acting in a more inclusive and welcoming manner.”

And you can’t help but think that in both cases, House Republicans are acting out of a stubborn refusal to take any action that might be construed as agreement with President Obama. It doesn’t matter that it’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s the smart thing to do. They have convinced each other that it amounts to surrender, and the notion that they might be able to share in the credit for enacting historically important legislation never seems to have crossed their minds.


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