WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — At a Democratic leaders press conference on Thursday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that House Republicans are too “afraid of the Tea Party” to pass immigration reform, adding that the reality is that the Tea Party’s power has already “peaked.”

The New York Democrat and longtime immigration reform supporter said that House Republicans are led by false anti-amnesty rhetoric from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. Schumer noted that recently ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is the only member of Congress that the “minority” Tea Party voters were able to remove from office.

“An informal whip count before Cantor lost indicated a majority of them said let’s move a bill forward even if they don’t want to vote for it,” said Schumer. “So they know. They all know. But it’s a small sliver of a minority of America which has disproportionate weight — the Tea Party — that prevents them from moving forward.”

He said GOP members of the House are being led by a “fear [that] is greater than the reality.”

“They’re afraid of the Tea Party. They’re afraid of the word amnesty even though our bill is not amnesty at all, but Rush Limbaugh says it enough, and they’re afraid that their primary voters that skew far-right believe it. The Tea Party may be a sliver of the American public but they make a huge percentage of primary voters in their district.

“A majority of the Republicans in the house, therefore, are in the pray yes, vote no caucus.”

Schumer then directed his attack on Republicans opposing immigration reform by pointing out Iowa Republican Steven King.

“Because they want to deal with the issue for the good of their party, but their afraid of the Tea Party and the almost hateful anti-immigrant forces led by Steven King,” said Schumer. “Will you let Steve King be your spokesperson? Or, do you summon a little bit of courage and pass immigration reform that will be good for you, your country and your party?”

Schumer said that House Republicans should recognize that the Tea Party’s power has “peaked,” and the time has come to vote for immigration reform.

“I’d encourage my friends in the House to look around and realize that the Tea Party, while still very powerful, has peaked. In only one major election did they cause the demise of an incumbent, and that is Eric Cantor.

Schumer referenced the losses of Matt Bevin in Kentucky to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Chris McDaniel’s loss in the Mississippi GOP primary.

“Their fear is greater than the reality. But they’re quaking in their boots, and America suffers,” concluded Schumer.

Benjamin Fearnow


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