WASHINGTON -- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has never been one to mince words when he disagrees with a piece of legislation. But the congressman found a few choice words on Tuesday to voice his opposition to the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill: He hates it so much, he would prefer Obamacare.
"Here's how bad this is: You all know how badly I despise Obamacare. I've spent years of my life fighting against Obamacare … it diminishes the destiny of America," King said at a joint press conference with a group of GOP lawmakers who oppose the Senate bill, including Texas Reps. Louie Gohmert and Steve Stockman. "But if I had to choose ... if somehow there was an offer that said you're going to get one or the other and you have to choose one, I would take Obamacare and try to live with that before I'd ever accept this amnesty plan.
"The amnesty plan is far, far worse than Obamacare. That genie cannot be put back in the bottle," he added, noting that Obamacare could still be repealed. "If this amnesty goes through, there's no undoing it. The genie of the Left will have escaped from the bottle and he will be as amorphous as a puff of smoke. You will not get him back in that bottle, and we'll have to live with this in the American civilization and culture in perpetuity."
Much of the opposition from King and his colleagues is directed at the bill's inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for the some 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. But even before the Senate "gang of eight" bill was introduced, King has been one of the most vocal hardliners on immigration in Congress. In recent months, he has proposed building a border fence, used the Boston bombings as reason to delay immigration reform, and compared immigrants to dogs. King's obsession with repealing Obamacare has also been well documented, but the Iowa Republican insisted on Tuesday that fighting the immigration reform effort would be his new priority.
King also told reporters that Republicans were wrong to assume that the GOP lost the Latino vote because of its stance on immigration -- even though a recent GOP report confirmed that Republicans should "embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform" in order not to lose core constituencies in future elections.
"I'm incredulous with the conclusion they drew when the sun came up on Nov. 7," King said. "They didn't have any data to work with. They just said that Mitt Romney would be the president-elect on that morning if he hadn't said two words: 'self deport.'"
Gohmert, another outspoken critic of immigration reform efforts, focused his comments Tuesday on the threat of "radical Islamists" and what he said was President Barack Obama's inability to effectively secure the border. The Obama administration has actually deported a record number of people, but Gohmert invoked the recent IRS and Department of Justice scandals to argue that the administration cannot be trusted.
"For this president to say I won't secure the border unless you give legal status to all these people would be hypothetically like some random president saying, 'Hey media, if you don't write good stories, I'm going to be be going into your phone records' … or like saying 'Hey groups, you better get off my back or we're going to harass you with the IRS,'" Gohmert said.