Rep. Steve Scalise tells Newsmax that Senate Democrats "refuse to secure the border" and insist on granting amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants — but their immigration bill won't pass in the Republican-controlled House.
The Louisiana Republican also says it was "unethical" for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to pressure sports organizations into promoting Obamacare.
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Scalise was first elected in 2008 to fill the House seat vacated when Bobby Jindal was elected governor. He is chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Scalise says the immigration reform legislation passed by the Senate on Thursday is a "nonstarter in the House. It focuses on amnesty and it does nothing to really secure the border, which needs to be the first step that's taken to reform our broken immigration system.
"What the committees of jurisdiction have been doing [in the House] is working on the bills where there's consensus and there's already been a border security bill that's passed out of the House.
"One of the big problems with the Senate bill is it repeats all the mistakes that were made in 1986 when the last major rewrite of our immigration laws happened. They gave amnesty and they promised border security, and of course the border security never came. Then you fast forward and we've got 11 million more people here illegally, and the same problem will happen again if the Senate bill were to pass. That's why there's such strong opposition in the House to that.
"The Senate bill was focused on giving amnesty and we're opposed to granting amnesty.
"There are more than 4 million people who are waiting in line to come into this country legally. They're playing by the rules. What message does it send to them that 11 million people who came here illegally are actually going to have more rights and benefits than they will?
"We can always, once we pass bills out of the House, see if there's the ability to get a consensus between the House and the Senate, but the Senate's going to have to get away from this stubborn idea that they refuse to secure the border and that they want to grant amnesty to people and ultimately give taxpayer benefits to people who are here illegally."
Asked if the Republican Party’s future is threatened if there’s a perception that they’re blocking reform, Scalise responds: "No. In fact, one of the things we're going to continue doing is reaching out to all communities and sharing our conservative message, and telling the story of how immigration, legally done, actually has helped make our country great.
"I'm very proud of the Italian heritage of my great-grandparents, who came here from Italy and how they helped be a part of the American Dream, and that's something we want to continue to make available to everybody who wants to come here. But there ought to be a system that works, a legal system that works, and right now we just don't have that."
Scalise has sent a letter to the NFL and the NBA after Secretary Sebelius announced that she’s been talking with sports affiliates about efforts to encourage enrollment under Obamacare.
He explains: "First, I want to make it clear that it's not only inappropriate, but it's unethical for anyone in the Obama administration to be pressuring any organization that they regulate to help promote Obamacare or any other law. That's just not the role of government, to go in and try to shake somebody down that they have regulation authority over.
"And the fact that Secretary Sebelius doesn’t recognize that it's unethical to be doing that, really says a lot about her judgment.
"I wanted to point out to the NFL and the NBA that, number one, while the administration is asking them to help prop up Obamacare, they're here in committee hearings admitting that they're not ready to implement the law. Reports have been coming out, independently, that have proven that the administration's not only missed deadlines to implement the law, but in fact, it's completely unworkable.
"The other thing I'm doing is calling on Secretary Sebelius to stop doing this and to stop pressuring agencies that she regulates to go and promote this law.
"In Louisiana alone, where we have both the Saints and the Pelicans, a recent study came out that showed that Louisiana families would face over 50 percent increases in their health insurance premiums because of Obamacare. And many of these are fans of the Saints and fans of the Pelicans. And so before [sports organizations] are pressured into doing this, they need to know the impact this would have on their fan base."
Scalise also says he was "saddened" by the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
"There was a very strong bipartisan coalition in Congress under President Bill Clinton that passed the Defense of Marriage Act. And you've had a majority of the states in this country that have strongly stated that marriage ought to be remain the union between one man and one woman.
"A lot of the reasons that people have put laws on the books is because they don't want unelected judges making these kinds of decisions. These decisions should be made by voters and their elected representatives."
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