For years, going back into the Patrick administration, the Republican members of the House of Representatives have staged a show during that chamber’s annual budget debate in which they offer an amendment to focus universal opprobrium on immigrants living in Massachusetts, whom they also misleadingly depict as criminals who are taking advantage of public benefits.
They then invite Howie Carr into the mix. He uses one or both of his platforms to stir the consumers of his content into a frenzy of angry telephone calls to House members urging them to support whatever odious amendments are on tap that year. Viz:
These shows have rewarded the GOP not only with a media spotlight, but also with a record of roll-call votes to be used in the next election against those Democratic incumbents who were not cowed into voting in favor.
But this year, something different happened. GOP Representative James Lyons (yes, that “gun-loving, immigrant-bashing Tea Partier“) had followed the script by filing an amendment to allow federal ICE agents to hold immigrants without an arrest warrant (which is now not permissible in Massachusetts), and had appeared on Carr’s radio show to stir up the listeners. Lyons was joined by GOP reps Geoff Diehl and Peter Durant in arguing for the amendment. Democratic Representatives Tucker, Provost and Decker spoke eloquently of the many reasons why the amendment ought to be defeated.
In the surprising roll-call vote that followed, only nine Republicans supported the amendment. Twice as many of them voted with the Democrats in opposition. (Roll call vote #334, link here.)
Is it too soon to hope that the GOP’s xenophobic fever is breaking?