The majority leader of the Republican-led House of Representatives, Eric Cantor, lost his primary on Tuesday, falling in a very unexpected upset to economics professor Dave Brat. Cantor had failed to take a strong position on one side of the immigration debate, leaving him labeled indecisive by voters from both camps regarding the issue. Though Cantor had made statements appealing to both proponents and opponents of reform, he was thought to be one of the best chances reform advocates had of getting the pending immigration bill pushed through the House.
Following Cantor’s defeat, many immigration reform supporters quickly voiced the opinion that immigration reform stood no chance at passing, at least for the year. This, however, may not be the case. Pressure is beginning to mount from advocates, aimed toward asking President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to pass the bill into law.
Of course, Obama has to show some degree of caution in considering the use of his presidential influence to expedite the bill. As of last month, the president had indicated that he would wait to use his power until the House had been given full opportunity to act on the bill prior to their legislative recess in August. As pressures mount from the left, however, it seems that many Democrats not only want Obama to act, but fully expect him to. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D, Ill., made this notion clear.
“Immigration reform is not dead. It might just be moving to the White House for action if none comes from this House,” Gutierrez said on the House floor while commenting on the Brat victory.
The weeks remaining prior to the legislative break the House of Representatives will take in August are considered the last plausible window for the bill to pass. If the House doesn’t reach a decision by that point, the pressure on Obama to take executive action will be considerably greater than it is now.