By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
Cantor loses primary and throws Congress into chaos… What WeHo Congressman Adam Schiff makes of it:
Most anyone who follows politics even tangentially has heard about the historic upheaval in the Republican Party when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary race to A Tea Party challenger.
It marks the first time that a Majority Leader has been defeated in a primary, and has scrambled the GOP as so many eggs.
Rep. Cantor was well known to have had one foot in the Tea Party, giving the Obama Administration fits (he’s been called by insiders a nasty piece of work), but the other hand squarely in big businesses’ pocket books.
While not all pundits agree one week after the event that Tea Party outrage over immigration reform and Rep. Cantor’s playing both sides of that fence had anything to do with his defeat, almost all GOP congressional candidates have moved right on the issue.
With him suddenly gone, what happens in a House where he kept any reasonable bill from coming to a vote for fear that credit might redound to the Obama Administration?
Catching up to West Hollywood’s congressman, Rep. Adam Schiff, just a few days after his return from the AIDS/Lifecycle ride to Washington D.C. we asked him if immigration reform was dead for this Congress.
Senator Lindsey Graham also faced a Tea Party candidate in his statewide race without moving his immigration reform stance to the right – he stands by his principles that immigration must be made easier.
“I think that we still have a window of opportunity on immigration reform to get it passed,” he said.
“Just this week – we were able to get a vote on a simple amendment I offered in the Appropriations Committee designed to keep families together,” a highly emotional subject, given the high number of deportations in the country these past few years.
“We should not be deporting the parents of American kids, and my amendment would have put an end to that while we wait for comprehensive reform. And while we came up short, we still managed to get two Republican votes.
He said the same thing every single Democrat says when approached. “I think if immigration reform were offered on the House floor, it would pass in a day.”
The defeat of Eric Cantor also leaves the GOP without any Jewish Representatives or Senators. The whole Republican Congress is now Christian, and the majority of those evangelical. The Tea Party has a heavy strain of Christianity flowing through it.
“I’m not sure much can be made of the loss of the one Jewish Republican.
“In so many ways, today’s GOP does not reflect the diversity of America and with Rep. Cantor’s loss, yet another aspect of what diversity the party had has been lost.”
Regarding foreign relations, and specifically relations with Israel, he said, “I don’t think it will affect U.S. relations, which are strongly bipartisan.”
Well, he won’t be there to block things, but Speaker Boehner seems just as disinterested in bringing bills to the floor for a vote – what can pass?
“The honest answer is not much,” said Rep. Schiff. “while I’m hopeful that we will see an immigration bill this year notwithstanding the chilling effect of Cantor’s loss on GOP willingness to stand up to the tea party, I remain skeptical that we can get many of the big ticket items done.
Still, government does have to move along, even if at glacial pace. Certain issues demand legislation.
Rep. Schiff said he had made progress on a handful of issues, despite being in the Minority caucus.
“There are still other meaningful things to get done — just this month I helped restore funding for planetary science (the money keeps the US on target to send people to Mars), passed an amendment to recognize the 74 sailors lost on the Frank E. Evans on the Vietnam Memorial and passed another amendment to study the deleterious impact of confining Orcas in small enclosures.
“These are small issues, but important in their own right and illustrative of how we can remain productive while we work on the major issues.”