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Major developments on immigration reform and gay marriage offer an early preview of potential lines of division among a group of Republicans who are viewed as potential White House candidates in 2016. Here’s a look at where they stand on the issues.
— Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: Bush, a longtime advocate of comprehensive immigration reform, said in a statement that the Senate vote was a “strong step for meaningful immigration reform and encouraging legal immigration for those that want to contribute to a better America.” He said the legislation “secures our borders and allows the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in our country the opportunity to earn a legal status.”
— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: Christie has called for tighter border controls and a pathway to citizenship for legal immigrants. He has said in past interviews that those who are here illegally should “get to the back of the line.” Sen. Jeff Chiesa, R-N.J., who was tapped by Christie to fill a Senate vacancy, voted for the plan. Christie said his former legal adviser has a “mind of his own” but Chiesa’s vote was viewed as a possible reflection of Christie’s outlook.
— Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: Cruz opposed the Senate bill because he said it granted “amnesty first” and repeated mistakes found in the 1986 immigration law approved by Congress. He said it would not secure the nation’s border and “it doesn’t fix our broken legal immigration system.” He said he would support immigration reform that “secures the border before legalization, fixes our legal immigration system and upholds the rule of law. This bill isn’t it.”
— Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants, has said little about the current immigration debate, but in his 2010 book, “Leadership and Crisis,” he cited the need to secure the nation’s borders, enforce existing laws and attract high-skill workers.
— Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul: Paul opposed the Senate’s immigration reform bill last week. He wrote in an op-ed in Politico that the nation “desperately” needs immigration reform but the legislation failed to adequately secure the border first. He proposed an amendment to the bill that included making immigration reform contingent upon Congress putting together a strong border security plan, annual congressional action on border security for five years, completion of a double-layered border fence and two new national security visa screening programs. The measure was defeated in a procedural vote.
— Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Perry has steadfastly opposed a border fence, saying it would take 10 to 15 years to build, cost $30 billion and wouldn’t work. He was criticized by Mitt Romney and other opponents for being soft on immigration during a September 2011 presidential debate, but Perry defended a policy offering in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants who attend high school in the state, noting that it passed the Legislature with wide bipartisan support.
— Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: Rubio was a key member of a bipartisan group of senators who developed the Senate plan and has spent months developing comprehensive immigration reform legislation. He has tried to sell the plan to conservatives, pointing to border security measures that would add 20,000 new border agents, build 700 miles of fencing along the southern border and develop a tracking system to identify people who overstay their visas.
— Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan: Ryan has advocated for immigration reform and said in an interview with CBS News last week that the Senate’s approval of border security measures would help the cause in the House. He said in the interview that “legal immigration is good for America.”
— Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: Santorum said in a radio interview that “the issue of immigration and respecting the rule of law in this country is a very, very important thing for Republican voters across the country.” He warned that Republicans who suggested the rule of law isn’t important and people entering the U.S. illegally would be treated the same as those entering legally would not “go over well on the Republican primary.”
— Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Walker has said the current immigration system is broken and supports a bipartisan approach to providing people living here illegally some kind of provisional status to live in the country, but not necessarily citizenship. He said in February that people waiting to get citizenship should have priority and others need to have a legal pathway to live here legally. He has not commented directly on the bill pending in Congress.
— Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: Bush has said gay marriage should be decided by individual states. In a speech in June, Bush told the Faith and Freedom Coalition that “families don’t look all the time like they used to, and that’s OK,” and said the nation needs to be supportive of non-traditional families.
— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: Christie, in a radio interview, criticized the Supreme Court decision, saying it was “incredibly insulting” to members of Congress and President Bill Clinton, who helped pass the Defense of Marriage Act at the time. Christie vetoed a bill in 2012 that would let gay couples marry and said he would do it again if it reaches his desk.
— Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: Cruz called the Supreme Court decisions “a regrettable overreach against the will of the people.” He called the family the “fundamental building block of society” and said he strongly supports traditional marriage between one man and one woman.
— Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: Jindal opposes gay marriage and supports the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, he said: “I believe every child deserves a mom and a dad. This opinion leaves the matter of marriage to the states where people can decide. In Louisiana, we will opt for traditional marriage. How about we let the people decide for themselves, via their representatives and via referendum?” As a Louisiana congressman, he voted in favor of a joint resolution in 2006 to propose a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
— Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul: Paul said he supported the historic and religious nature of marriage between a man and a woman and noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling kept intact laws in “34 states that have decided in favor of traditional marriage.” He said in an interview with ABC News that the Republican party “is going to have to agree to disagree on some of these issues.”
— Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Shortly before entering the 2011 presidential race, Perry said he supports states’ rights so much that he’s fine with the approval of gay marriage in places like New York. Within days of formally declaring his White House run, however, Perry changed his mind. In August 2011, he signed a National Organization for Marriage pledge to defend the institution as between one man and one woman.
— Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: In a lengthy statement, Rubio said the Supreme Court “made a serious mistake” and “overstepped its important, but limited role.” He said gay marriage should be decided through the democratic process and “not through litigation and court pronouncements.”
— Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan: Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Ryan said the institution of marriage is a “unique relationship between one man and one woman” and the “foundation for the family.” He said it was now up to states “to decide this issue through the democratic process.”
— Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: Santorum said he was very disappointed with the Supreme Court rulings, calling the Defense of Marriage Act decision “another case of the high court overstepping its role, just as it did with Roe v. Wade.” He said the issue “should be left to the democratic process, not to five activist judges.”
— Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Walker has supported Wisconsin’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, passed in 2006.
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Copyright © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue