The “abolish ICE!” wave that was building on Capitol Hill broke a lot further from shore than liberals were probably hoping.
After a bill to accomplish it was put forward by Democrats, Republicans suddenly embraced the idea: Let’s vote on it, they said, so we can get Democrats on record on how they really feel about their own rhetoric.
Shame, that. However, if Democrats want the whole kerfuffle to go away quietly, that’s not going to happen. In a Saturday history lesson delivered on Fox News’ “Cavuto Live,” Rep. Michael McCaul, the Texas Republican who put forth the bill to reauthorize Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year, told host Neil Cavuto that, at the time, the bill got overwhelming support from Democrats.
“The irony, Neil, is that a year ago today, nearly every Democrat voted for my bill to fully authorize ICE into law for the first time ever, including Nancy Pelosi, including the Democrat who introduced the bill to abolish ICE,” McCaul said.
“They brought this fight on when they wanted to abolish ICE, so we wanted to call their bluff and say, ‘Okay, great. Then why don’t you vote for your bill,’” he continued.
“Then they backed off and said, ‘we’re going to vote against our bill to abolish ICE,’ and that’s precisely the time we put a bill in favor of supporting our men and women in ICE who protect Americans every day from drug traffickers.”
The bill McCaul was discussing — a resolution applauding the work done by ICE and its officers put before the lower chamber on Wednesday — was authored by Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins.
The resolution passed by a vote of 244-35. Those proficient in math will note that the number of “yeas” and “nays” combined is far less than the 435 total members of the House of Representatives. That’s because 133 Democrats voted “present,” which is a legislative way of not taking any stand on the issue. Nice show of pusilanimity, Dems.
The highest-profile names among the 35 who were willing to vote against the measure were Democrat Reps. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, as well as libertarian-leaning Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.
Only 18 Democrats were among the “yea” votes.
As for the vote in the reauthorization bill that McCaul was talking about, that passed 386-41. Gutierrez voted against it, but Jackson Lee voted for it — as did 159 Democrats.
Among the 32 who voted against it that voted “present” on Wednesday was California’s Maxine Waters, proof that there’s no rhyme or (especially) reason in anything she does.
What’s really telling here is that ICE was created as part of the 2003 act that established the Department of Homeland Security, and that had plenty of Democrat support at the time. So Democrats not only helped create a branch of the government they now think of as a monster, they supported it wholeheartedly only a year ago.
When asked if he thought there was a battle in the Democrat Party over ICE, McCaul said that he thought the whole thing was a “gross miscalculation” on the part of the Democrats.
“This is about a 70 percent winning issue with the American people,” he told Cavuto.
“I know there’s a lot of division within their own ranks. In fact, I heard the Hispanic Caucus wasn’t even consulted about this bill to abolish ICE. I think they’ve got a lot of deep divisions going on, but I think we as Republicans have to drive the law enforcement message. We created ICE after 9/11 for one reason, and that’s to keep bad people and bad things out of this country, including terrorists.”
That’s a message the American people like. Whether the Democrats are on board or not makes little difference on this matter. And when it comes to elections, you can’t just vote “present.”
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