Only 19 House Republicans Openly Support the House Republican Immigration Policy

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 25 2014 4:55 PM

Only 19 House Republicans Openly Support the House Republican Immigration Policy

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At least Renee Ellmers is willing to speak up.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Reporting on the support for immigration reform in Congress suffers from a serious knowledge problem. There are 435 members of the House, barring retirements and deaths; there are, at any given time, 216–218 votes required to pass a bill. The announcement by this or that Republican that he's ready to back immigration reform is always heralded as a breakthrough. But you'd need either 1) every Democrat and 18 Republicans, or 2) most Republicans and a rump of Democrats to move anything through the House. How many Republicans even want to move?

Roll Call has been asking around for the answer. The whip count so far: 19 who back the GOP's "principles," the ones everyone wrote about a month ago at the GOP retreat. Thirty who oppose the principles. Forty-seven who won't say or haven't decided. And 131, a majority, who have not said either way.

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That's pretty weak for something that allegedly emerged with the backing of two-thirds of Republicans. Do most of the missing 131 support something but enjoy, for now, the veil of protection granted by leadership before their primaries? Very possible. Here's what happens if you admit to backing the principles:

No serious candidate has filed to run against Ellmers, who's looked at as a media star within the party—she's been given the task of messaging health care to women.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.