Now we know what it takes to get them to care about something:

Tensions between Hispanic Democrats and House leaders exploded Friday when a bloc of Hispanic lawmakers voted to derail a major tax bill, relenting only after an angry confrontation on the floor with Speaker

Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

The rebellion was a response to votes by 36 Democrats Thursday night in favor of a non-binding Republican motion Hispanic members called offensive. It instructed House conferees on an appropriations bill to accept a Senate-passed provision prohibiting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from suing employers over certain English-speaking requirements.

That motion was the latest in a series of immigration- and language-related votes that Republicans have used to splinter Democrats, some of whom are nervous about GOP attack ads that could portray them as “soft” on illegal immigration.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said Thursday night’s vote was their breaking point. They retaliated by initially voting against the rule allowing debate of the tax bill, very nearly sinking the measure and prompting a fiery exchange on the floor.

Hoyer was toe-to-toe with the much shorter Joe Baca, D-Calif., chairman of the Hispanic caucus. According to one Hispanic Democrat, Hoyer jabbed his finger at Baca and yelled, “How dare you destroy this party? This will be the worst loss in 10 years.”

That same Hispanic lawmaker reported that Pelosi said, “You see this on the board? This is against me, this is against me personally.”

Only a pack of amateur monkeys would take the issue that fractures the Republican party every time it comes up and use it against their own. You have to wonder at the genius that inspires Democrats to personally and forcefully stab their Hispanic caucus in the back.

Rahm is personally whipping for the Shuler/Tancredo bill. And he’s obviously continuing to tell freshmen that they need to get “tough on immigration” or lose their seats because so many of them have signed on as co-sponsors (immigration is, as you’ll recall, the excuse Rahm uses to cover up for his abject failure to pick good candidates or allow them to speak openly against the war — the Democratic majority happened in spite of Rahm, not because of him).

The bill seems to authorize the Department of Homeland Security to work with the Department of Defense to turn the border into a police state:

Rep. Luis Gutierrez , D-Ill., the author of a “comprehensive” immigration overhaul that would combine enforcement measures with a new temporary-worker program and a means for illegal immigrants to become citizens, said Shuler’s bill is incomplete.

“It looked like he grabbed my STRIVE bill, took all the enforcement parts of it and forgot to turn the page. It’s a book he didn’t finish reading,” Gutierrez said. “We might as well put the Republicans in charge.”

Indeed, Shuler’s measure echoes the calls of the most ardent critics of immigration bills that would allow undocumented workers to eventually become American citizens. That includes retiring Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado , who has based his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on opposition to illegal immigration. Tancredo signed on as one of 89 cosponsors, nearly all of whom represent the most conservative factions of the Republican and Democratic parties.

Shuler’s enforcement-only approach to immigration legislation has exacerbated tension between moderate Democrats and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, many of whom have been displeased with their colleagues’ votes on immigration-related issues this year. In particular, Republicans have used a procedural weapon to force Democrats to vote repeatedly on tricky immigration questions, and 19 freshman Democrats are among the larger group of centrists who have sided with the GOP on one or more of those votes this year.

Shuler is Rahm’s boy so no wonder he didn’t feel like he had to politic the thing. This has Emanuel’s arrogant, short-sighted fingerprints all over it.

Hey Rahm, you’ve got a district that’s 25% Hispanic. I know you’ve notoriously said “they don’t vote, ignore ’em,” but do you really want to roll those dice?


Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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