Ted Cruz and Mike Lee outshine Rand Paul on immigration

Only 15 Republican Senators voted against the motion to allow debate to proceed on the Schumer-Rubio immigration reform bill. The 15 “no” votes were cast by:

John Barasso, Wyoming
John Boozman, Arkansas
Mike Crapo, Idaho
Ted Cruz, Texas
Mike Enzi, Wyoming
Chuck Grassley, Iowa
Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma
Mark Kirk, Illinois
Mike Lee, Utah
James Risch, Idaho
Tim Scott, South Carolina
Jeff Sessions, Alabama
Richard Shelby, Alabama
David Vitter, Lousiana

A “yes” vote doesn’t necessarily mean a vote in favor of Schumer-Rubio at the end of the day. But anyone who voted “yes” should be considered a potential “yes” vote on the merits. With that many potential “yes” votes, there is no doubt that Schumer-Rubio will pass the Senate with no significant amendments.

How did the Tea Party favorites break? Mike Lee and Ted Cruz were “no” votes. Rand Paul and Ron Johnson did not. And Marco Rubio, of course, is a sponsor of the legislation.

That’s not a good batting average for the Tea Party, whose limited government agenda has no future once 30 million or so underclass voters are added to the electorate.

Do Tea Party leaders understand this? If so, they should rally the forces before it’s too late.

Rand Paul, supposedly the most ardent limited government advocate of them all, should be a particular embarrassment to the Tea Party. According to Robert Costa at NRO, Paul will deliver a speech on immigration reform today to Latino pastors. Having received the advance text of the speech, Costa reports:

Paul will articulate his position, including a call for the GOP to “embrace more legal immigration.” He’ll urge Republicans to have “compassion” for people who want to work in the United States, and to remember the “human face” behind the political battle. . . .

Paul will also voice support for granting work visas to millions of undocumented workers as part of a larger package that includes carefully monitored improvements to border security. “The solution doesn’t have to be amnesty or deportation,” he says. “A middle ground might be called probation, where those who came here illegally become legal through a probationary period.”

“Common sense and decency have been neglected for far too long,” Paul says. “Let’s secure our borders, welcome our new neighbors, and practice the values of freedom and family for all to see.”

In the abstract, there’s nothing wrong with serving up this kind of mush. But we’re no longer dealing with immigration in the abstract. For months, there has been real-life, game-changing immigration legislation on the table.

Paul needs to stop playing Hamlet on Schumer-Rubio and decide whether he’s going to support legalizing millions of lawbreakers before border security has been achieved. The issue has been teed up for months. A prospective Republican leader would have figured out where he stands by now, as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee (and Marco Rubio, for that matter) have managed to do.

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