Election Leaves Immigration Subcommittees Virtually Unchanged

By David North on November 6, 2014

Beyond the key change — that the Republicans will now run the Senate Immigration Subcommittee — the elections had virtually no direct impact on the membership of the House and Senate immigration subcommittees.

There are routinely 13 members of each of the subcommittees; but one of the GOP slots in the House is vacant, making a total of 25. Of these, only one was defeated at the polls; all the rest either successfully sought re-election or did not need to do so to stay in office. The one exception was a member of a rare species, a Cuban Democrat holding elective office. He is Joe Garcia, a House member from Florida's southernmost district.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the open-borders leader, remains on the Senate subcommittee, but no longer has the gavel; a Republican will have that position.

The election had absolutely no impact on the service of 11 of the 25 members of the two subcommittees. Ten of the 13 senators were not up for re-election; this was also true of one of the Democrats on the House subcommittee. He is Pedro Pierluisi, the resident commissioner for Puerto Rico (and thus a member of the House); he, alone, serves a four-year term and was elected in 2012. He, like the other territorial delegates, has a full vote in subcommittee and committee, but not on the House Floor.

The three senators up for re-election floated through the process. The most outspoken restrictionist, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), had no opponent on the ballot; for the first time in the history of his state, the Democrats did not have a candidate for the U.S. Senate. The other two, John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) had opponents, but no real contests.

There are five Hispanics among the 25 current subcommittee members, but none have any Mexican ancestors, though Mexico is by far the largest contributor to the flow of migrants both legal and illegal.

Of the four on the House panel, three are Puerto Ricans: Pierluisi, Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), perhaps the most pro-amnesty member of either body; the fourth Hispanic is Garcia, a child of Cuban refugees. The one Hispanic on the Senate panel is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who is also of Cuban descent.

Who chairs the subcommittees will be up the leadership of the majority party; two years ago Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) was the choice of Speaker Boehner, and that may well be repeated. On the Senate side, John Cornyn (R-Texas) is currently the ranking GOP member, but at this writing it is not known if he would want the chair; he is also the Republican Whip, or deputy leader of the party in the Senate. It would be most helpful to the cause were Sen. Sessions to become the subcommittee chair.

The Democratic Party members of the Senate subcommittees prior to the election were: Schumer, Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Diane Feinstein (Calif.), Durbin, Amy Klobuchar ( Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii). One of these seven will have to leave the subcommittee to provide an additional seat for the GOP.

The sitting Republicans on the Senate subcommittee, in addition to Cornyn, are: Charles Grassley (Iowa), who is slated to be chair of the full Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch (Utah), Sessions, Jeff Flake (Ariz.), and Cruz. There probably will be at least one more Republican member of the subcommittee.

On the House side, the Republican contingent currently includes, in addition to Gowdy, Ted Poe and Lamar Smith, both of Texas, Steve King (Iowa), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Labrador, George Holding (N.C.), and one vacancy.

The House Democrats are: Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), the ranking member and an immigration lawyer, Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), and Gutierrez, Garcia, and Pierluisi.

The ratio by party in the Senate will change when Congress re-convenes. Currently, on the Senate side it is 7-6 in favor of the Democrats; that will be reversed. In the House the current ratio is 8-5 in favor of the GOP; that is likely to persist.

Topics: Politics