House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted in a secret meeting that the GOP is opposing immigration reform to keep its racist voters from abandoning the party in November.
In a secret meeting with House Republicans, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy pushed back against passing immigration reform, warning that the party needs racist voters to keep its majority.
Politico reports that McCarthy is echoing House Speaker Paul Ryan in opposing a discharge petition promoted by one group of Republicans that would force a vote on a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) bill.
If the vote proceeds, McCarthy explained, it would discourage members of their base with an antipathy toward Latinos. And those voters have been key to Republicans' electoral success.
"Intensity levels are still not there," McCarthy noted. He said such petitions "release the power of the floor that the American people gave us the responsibly to hold."
Should immigration reform pass the House, ultimately, McCarthy said, "the majority goes to [House Democratic Leader] Nancy [Pelosi]."
He insisted that "If you want to depress intensity, this is the No. 1 way to do it." And he again fearfully referenced Pelosi, who would likely become Speaker again if Republicans lose their majority.
"We can debate internally but don’t let someone else like Nancy decide our future," McCarthy warned.
The blunt, albeit private, admission from McCarthy comes as he is in the middle of an internal Republican battle to succeed Ryan as speaker.
Like John Boehner before him, Ryan has obstructed a vote on immigration reform, even when passage of legislation that could provide relief to millions of families was supported by millions of Americans and would have been signed into law by President Barack Obama.
Addressing immigration is one of the most important issues to voters ahead of the midterm elections. And eight in 10 Americans support DACA. Yet the Republican leadership strenuously avoids the topic. And they continue turning a blind eye to Trump's embrace of racist language.
Now we know, thanks to leaks from the secret meeting, McCarthy has conceded that the calculus behind the strategy of appeasing racist voters is simply a ploy to keep the GOP's majority.
If Republicans retain the House and leaders like McCarthy stay in power, it's a clear sign such appeasement will continue. But that's looking like a bigger "if" every day.