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GOP misses opportunity on 'Abolish ICE' vote

House Republicans are backing down from a plan to put Democrats in a bind and force them to take a tough vote to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

It's a shame, really. If Republicans had brought the bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., up for a vote, they would have scored easy political points by exposing how Democrats are hypocrites. Democrats would either have gone on record supporting the abolishment of ICE, which most Americans don't support, or Democrats would have opposed the bill, betraying the radical open-borders zealots who make up the progressive base.

But Politico reports that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., was "concerned" that forcing a vote on an #AbolishICE bill would backfire if Democrats refused to vote or uniformly opposed the bill. According to "sources familiar with the matter," Ryan told House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., he opposed the move, and McCarthy eventually agreed with him. Instead, Congress will vote on a resolution of support for ICE that includes wording condemning calls to abolish the agency.

This is a wasted opportunity. The #AbolishICE bill would have had consequences if passed. It would have gone down in flames, but it was real political action. The Democrats were running scared from being forced to go on the record for the #AbolishICE bill exactly because they knew they couldn't explain to their base why they support abolishing ICE and yet whiffed on an opportunity to do it.

With this toothless resolution, on the other hand, some of them can say they support ICE in theory, while others can maintain their opposition to ICE without putting their cards on the table for voters. The fact is that this new vote will be, as Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., called it, "an obvious messaging bill." And a messaging bill does not carry the weight of a bill that would have consequences.

Meadows spoke today at the Heritage Foundation's Conversations with Conservatives event. He suggested that if House Republicans really wanted to put the squeeze on Democrats ahead of the midterms, they would vote on consequential legislation.

The election is in November. If Republicans still want to highlight the Democrats' radicalism, now is the time.

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