Skip to comments.Picking Tom Cotton
Posted on 07/15/2013 6:15:33 PM PDT by SharpRightTurn
HC-5, a drab, wood-paneled conference room in the Capitol basement, was quiet last Wednesday as Paul Ryan pushed for immigration reform. All eyes were on the Wisconsin Republican as he touted the economic benefits of bringing illegal immigrants into the work force. He assured his colleagues, who were clustered in cliques moderates here, old bulls there that stronger border security remains the leaderships priority.
As Ryan spoke, freshman Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who was behind him in line, listened carefully. He was calm and upright, and unlike a handful of conservative rabble-rousers in the back, he didnt sigh as Ryan made his points. Instead, he clasped his hands and focused on his coming speech. After Ryan stepped away, Cotton, a 36-year-old former Army officer, moved forward, and soon his clipped drawl filled the room.
The crowd of 200-plus Republicans took notice. From the start, Cottons message was a contrast with Ryans. He sliced into the Senates immigration bill and dismissed the idea of a compromise. He urged Republicans to oppose a conference with the Senate, and warned that any formal negotiations with the upper chamber would lead to disaster. He then turned to Speaker John Boehner, who was standing nearby, and advised him to tread carefully. For a moment, they engaged in a terse back-and-forth. We are not worlds apart from the Senate, we are galaxies apart, Cotton told the speaker. Boehner responded that Cotton shouldnt worry. Were not going to conference until were ready, he said. The speaker coolly explained to Cotton that its important to pass legislation that reflects the position of House Republicans.
Looking on, Steve King of Iowa, long a member of the Houses anti-amnesty forces, smiled. He glanced at his friends, who smiled back. This rookie backbencher, a Harvard Law graduate, was good. Its so clear that hes done the research and taken the time to understand the issue, King tells me. Hes also resilient, and not easily discouraged by people who disagree. Usually, you dont see freshmen get too far out front, but hes emerging, sooner rather than later, as a leader in this Congress.
Conservative power brokers agree. Behind the scenes, theyre encouraging Cotton, at the eleventh hour of the immigration debate, to be Kings fresh-faced ally. Cottons friends say Republican consultants and movement figures, from talk-radio hosts to think-tank fellows, are constantly e-mailing and calling. They see Cotton not just as a partner but as the last, best hope for a wing of the party often dismissed as senescent.
Hes certainly an Army ranger I wouldnt want to mess with, says Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the Financial Services committee. And in a very short time, he has made his mark. To a lot of senior members, he commands their respect.
Cottons remarks at the closed-door meeting were only the beginning of his efforts. A day later, he published an essay in the Wall Street Journal, where he counseled Republicans to not hand any immigration legislation off to a conference committee. The House, he argued, should not go near a bill that includes a path to legalization. He also shrugged off the supposed pressure on Republicans to pass something.
Look for Cotton to continue to fight for a conservative, border-security-centric approach to immigration in the coming weeks. As Boehner and pro-reform heavyweights such as Ryan work to pass a series of piecemeal immigration bills, Cotton, King, and others will question whether that strategy makes sense. Theyll wonder aloud, on the House floor and on the airwaves Cotton is a favorite of producers for Sunday morning talk shows whether the GOP is walking into a trap set by the Senates Gang of Eight.
Cottons rapid ascent as a charismatic, brainy voice for Steve Kings coalition has surprised several leadership staffers, who had planned for months to use Ryan, one of the chambers more popular conservatives, as a means of wooing the right flank toward a modified path to legalization. They didnt think a mostly unknown freshman would be competing with Ryan for the spotlight, both inside and outside the Capitol. Now, with Cotton regularly slamming immigration reform with the poise of Bill Clinton but the politics of Rush Limbaugh, their calculus has changed.
In an interview at his cramped House office on the fourth floor of the Cannon building freshmen dont get spacious facilities Cotton plays down his role as a Paul Ryantype leader of the conservative bloc. But he is eager to battle any attempt, however well intentioned, to bring forth legislation thats not entirely enforcement-based.
There is widespread resistance to legalization, because logic and history say that you will have the legalization and not the enforcement, Cotton says. We shouldnt even be spending this much time on immigration. This is very much an inside-the-Beltway, elite-driven issue, where elites in both parties are aligned. Cotton adds that out of the more than 1,800 letters and calls his office has received, only a dozen have expressed support for the Senates bill. Thats south of 1 percent, he says.
Im going to keep trying to do what I tried to do at the conference meeting, which was to persuade my colleagues on my view of the facts behind the Senate bill, Cotton tells me. I want to try to make the case broadly to the policy community, to the American people, of what I think is the right policy. He acknowledges that hes huddling with a variety of off-the-Hill leaders but reiterates that his constituents are fueling his increased cloakroom lobbying and his flurry of television appearances.
A Senate run is another motivating factor, according to Republican insiders who know him well. Cotton and his political team are plotting a potential race next year against incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor. There have held meetings with donors in Washington, D.C., and held informal strategy sessions in Dardanelle, Ark., Cottons hometown. Cottons confidants think Pryor is vulnerable, especially since he voted aye on the Senates immigration bill. But as an amiable, pro-gun Democrat, hell be tough to beat, and Cotton isnt expected to make a final decision until later this year.
Fellow Republicans talk about Cotton as a senator in waiting. Theres a little jealousy among some of us sophomores who see Tom rising like some kind of perfect-résumé rocket, says a House Republican from the class of 2010. But hes generally pretty low key, and hes a lot different than Steve [King] and Dana [Rohrabacher of California], the guys I associate with the war against amnesty. Adds a senior House Republican: Hes got the smarts and that farmer charm, which can take you far here.
Youve got to take him seriously, says Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of Boehners inner circle. People are listening to what he has to say about how the Senate bill gives way too much power to the executive branch. Hes rightfully concerned about whether the administration would even enforce our border-security bills.
Cole says Cottons leadership qualities are what set him apart, and lend his contribution to the debate a kind of weight within the Republican conference thats hard to quantify. He says many members share Cottons position, and they echo his rhetoric, but its rare to see someone come at this issue with the precision and heart of a man who served in the 101st Airborne, or with his ability to make an argument.
Cottons Journal article showcased that ability. He detailed how effective enforcement doesnt require triggers within a bloated bipartisan bill, but stand-alone bills committed to expanding and improving the border fence, creating a visa-tracking system, and building a workable employment-verification system. He used history specifically Ronald Reagans controversial immigration law from 1986 to demonstrate how comprehensive reform is so routinely full of promises easily forgotten.
Boehner and his advisers are paying attention, and Cole says he expects Cotton to be consulted more as the various immigration bills are considered. King predicts that Cotton could be one of the reasons that a path to legalization dies in the House the conservative who gave the critics the boost they needed this summer. The issue is the conference as much as the bills, and he pinpoints that, King says.
But Cottons influence, for the time being, does not extend far beyond the insular world of House conservatives. Some of the top players hardly know him. Who? asks Democrat Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois, a leading member of the Houses working group on immigration, when I mention Cotton. He says he doesnt follow internal Republican dynamics. I dont even know what state hes from, he says.
So, wheres he from? Gutiérrez asks.
Arkansas, I say.
Arkansas! Okay! he says, rushing off to a vote.
Soon enough, he wont have to ask.
Robert Costa is National Reviews Washington editor.
I bet Boehner didn't like a freshman conservative lecturing him. And Paul Ryan is probably irate that Cotton is upstaging him.
I would love to see Cotton take on Pryor for the Senate seat next year.
Thank goodness there are a few House members who are shouting "NO conference bill." If it dies in the House without a conference bill with amnesty for Boehner to rush to the floor, Boehner will be crying till the end of the year.
"King predicts that Cotton could be one of the reasons that a path to legalization dies in the House." From your lips to God's ears, Steve.
I stand with Tom Cotton!
“I stand with Tom Cotton!”
Absolutely. Now if we could just get a majority of Republicans to do the same.
As an Arkansan, I will vote for Tom Cotton.
Paul Ryan is a lying two-faced traitor to the Republican Party.If he is the pick of the RINO’s we lose again.
The more support guys like Cotton get the better chance that other pubbies will buy a clue.
Arkansas boy does good.
“Paul Ryan is a lying two-faced traitor to the Republican Party.If he is the pick of the RINOs we lose again.”
No question. He is an even worse campaigner than Romney was. And I remember when he was asked about immigration issues when he was picked by Romney to be his running mate that Ryan tried to nuance and deflect so as to give a non-answer every time. I guess he had to bite his tongue at the time and not confess he was for amnesty.
“The more support guys like Cotton get the better chance that other pubbies will buy a clue.”
I agree. I plan to give to his next campaign, be it the House or Senate.
I wish I could cast a vote for him.
Cotton is sounding better and better.
He might be worth challenging Pryor.
What is the voting record difference between Pryor and Blanche?
Until now Blance was the only one for amnesty.
Find it strange when the excuse is being given that while the government knows whats going on in 300 million citizens lives but because the illegals are not citizens and in “the shadows” according to Florida’s Senator Rubio the US doesn’t know who they are or where they’re comming from so we must make them citizens..
THE QUESTION IS SENATORS HOW COULD YOU PASS A 1200 PAGE BILL YOU HAVEN’T READ... THAT HAS A FINE OF $5000 FOR ANY EMPLOYER WHO HIRES A CITIZEN OVER AN ILLEGAL ...WHY ARE YOU SO SET ON IMPORTING LOW WAGE LABORERS MAINLY FROM ONE COUNTRY WHICH TAKE UP JOBS OUR YOUTH AND ESPECIALLY BLACKS COULD BE PERFORMING ?
KNOWING THIS HOW CAN YOU HOUSE MEMBERS PASS ANY KIND OF LEGISLATION THAT MAY HAVE THAT AND AN UNSECURED BORDER COMMING OUT OF “CONFERENCE”....???HOW ABOUT REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF YOUR CONSTITUENTS AND THE COUNTRY NOT YOUR POLITICAL PARTY ?
FR’s ; are urged to visit their respective Congressional Representatives and let them know their feelings ... WHEN IT COMES TO AMNESTY
THIS IS THE MEXICAN PART NO ONE DARES MENTION
If you agree with the above and the following please don’t let it lay here in FR-land. Pass it on to to your favorite talk show host and to your US legislators. PUSH THE HASTERT RULE.
ONE NATIONALITY AMNESTY SKEWS QUOTAS. HURTS OTHERS FROM SOUTH AMERICA, AND SKILLED LABOR QUOTAS FROM OTHER NATIONS ...WORSE YET OFFERING AMNESTY FOR NATIONALS FROM A COUNTRY THAT HAS CLAIMS ON OUR NATIONAL TERRITORY THAT COULD AND HAS TURNED INTO PROBLEMS FOR BORDER STATES CLAIMED BY MEXICO .
In that May 3rd speech Obama gave before the Mexican Anthropological Museum in which he blamed America for the violence in Mexico I believe he went even futhur. Theres a inference but never referenced by name to the Gasden purchase and border settlements US made with Mexico where Obama hinted he seems to side with the Mexican claims. Would those in attendence share that view is a question that should be asked, because I believe they would,.he does.
SOLVING THE ‘LATINO” PROBLEM A MYTH HISPANIC IS NOT A RACE BUT A POLITICAL LINGUISTIC CONTRIVANCE ...don’t fall into the hyphenated Americans trap created by the hyphenated political party ...The DEMO-COMS
The Mexicans have been getting most favorable treatment above the rest of our neighbors both north and south. Theyre permitted to cross our borders and enter illegally and are allowed access to rights of citizenship (with the exception of voting which if the democrat party regains control over the House will happen) other nationals entering this country dont get.. Worse yet the Obama government has been working hand in glove with Mexican movements such as LaRaza supporting the Mexican claims which are also supporting “Amnesty”.
Also by allowing Mexicans to do this any quota ration for immigration from other south and central American countrys are taken up by Mexicans while that country is laying claim to a large chunk of our sovereign territory is a recipe for later serious problems which are happening now.
ARE MEXICAN ILLEGALS SQUATTERS PERPETUATING THE MEXICAN CLAIMS ?
We are already seeing the result of this in certain areas claimed by the Mexicans. Their national flag (standard) gets displayed over ours. Where there is a controlling number of Mexican nationals (illegals). Its displayed over certain institutions particularly schools accompanied by riots and disturbances. Blacks are threatend by Mexicans in certain sections of citys in those areas. Were courting trouble by not placing a value on our sovereignty and our citizenship.
MOST COINS OF THE REALM HAVE TWO FACES WHAT ABOUT HOW ARE AMERICAN CITIZENS LIVING IN MEXICO BEING TREATED ?
Worse yet if a US citizen goes into Mexico never mind illegaly but legally. Theyll get 2nd class treatment. Land ownership in title is prohibited period. And there are a slew of regulations they must comply with. Which doesnt apply to a citizen of Mexico
THE SOLUTION ASSERT OUR SOVEREIGNTY AND TALK RECIPROCITY .
By not insisting on reciprocity particularly on those who have entered this country illegally were offering no incentive for assimilation and were not easing the burden for our fellow citizens who for what ever reason decided to live in Mexico.
ENOUGH OF THE ONE WORLD SOCIALISM ...BRING BACK SOVEREIGNTY AND SANITY TO OUR COUNTRY .....BRING BACK BELIEF IN GOD ...THIS GOVERNMENT OUT OUR FACE..... OUR RELIGIONS..... AND OUR BEDROOMS..
I guess I need to keep up more... :-)
Blanche Lincoln was defeated back in 2010. Republican John Boozman is the junior Senator now.
IF they want to pass immigration piecemeal, then let the Senate pass one piece of enforcement at a time and the House pass EXACTLY the same one. That way there is no conference and the bill goes to the president.
Cantor= see above. Both of these fellows are fishing for Conservative support with Liberal bait. Ain't working.
There is nothing to be gained by cooperating with democrats in this Congress. Let the bastards drown and concentrate on keeping an improved majority in '14, and winning the Senate. There is no "Immigration Emergency." There is an "Unwillingness to Demand Law Enforcement Emergency."
King and Cotton have a tough job ... Dump Boehner.
Tom Cotton is closer to the geographic center of the house GOP than Ryan. He is surrounded by districts the GOP gained.
Priebus and Paul Ryan are not guys who would pass the beer test.
Steve King passes the beer test.
Boehner will be crying and drinking a fifth a day until the end of the year.
Dump Goodlatte and Cantor too.
Boehner never passes beer without giving it a test.
Taking on a Pryor would be suicidal in AR. A Pryor has lost only one election, the 1972 Senate runoff primary to John McClellan. Otherwise, they always win. People in AR truly believe in Pryors and Clintons and Bumperses, but there is only one “Dandy Dale”.
Yes, indeed, in retrospect he let that silly biden walk all over him, just like his mentor, Jack French Kemp let algore dominate the stage.
I didn’t really know about Cotton until I read this article. Its time somebody told Boehner and his buddies to back off.
Paul Ryan is going down the same road as Rubio. I think he is killing any chance to get the GOP nomination in 2016.
W don’t like Cotton, but that’s a good thing....
Ryan has screwed the poor pooch.
"Who sups with the Devil needs a long spoon."