House Republicans are expected to vote Thursday on a bill to prevent President Obama from stopping more undocumented immigrant deportations by executive order, as he's expected to do soon. It may not end up being a big deal in the 2014 elections. But one state illuminates a looming future issue for the GOP.
-- As the GOP bashes Obama's immigration policies and several red-state Democratic senators ask him to be cautious about further action, one battleground Democrat has gone the other way. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) announced on a Latino Denver radio station in June that he wanted Obama to push forward with executive immigration action if the House wouldn't act on immigration reform.
-- In the spring of 2013, days after Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) initially decided not to run for Senate, Gardner joined most of his party in supporting an amendment to undo Obama's 2012 "deferred action" DREAM Act-like order. Between then and now, though, Gardner made a move from a safely Republican district to a purple state-wide run, and Udall, Democrats, and immigration activists have been fiercely critical of him on immigration, often citing that old vote.
-- By running for the Senate instead of the House, Gardner's environment has changed in the same way that the country's will from 2014 to 2016. This election is focused in areas of the country that are far less diverse than average and that Mitt Romney won in 2012, from the Senate battleground to a majority of the House of Representatives. That doesn't minimize Democrats' liabilities this year. But it does raise the question, again, of how Republican strategies in the demographically shielded environs of 2014 will affect the party's presidential prospects in 2014. The House vote on preventing further immigration action by Obama won't prevent him from taking action, thanks to Senate Democrats (just like the 2013 amendment), but it will increase pressure on 2016 Republicans to join in after Obama does make his move on immigration -- before a presidential election when Republicans have acknowledged their need to increase the party's share of Latino votes.
The House immigration vote Thursday may only affect a few races in 2014. But it's easy to see how it could give Republicans trouble on a different playing field in 2016.
-- Scott Bland