A number of newly elected lawmakers could be set to shake up the party, possibly breaking ranks with the Republican leadership on key issues, and first in line is incoming Rep. Carlos Curbelo, The Hill reported.
The Florida Republican is already taking a divergent stance from House colleagues, supporting many of the elements of immigration reform bill that was passed in the Senate last year but not taken up by the House.
The son of Cuban exiles, Curbelo also condemned his party for trying to end protections for illegal immigrants that came to the United States as children which would have exposed them to the risk of deportation.
"Curbelo's election this month … highlights divisions that can emerge, when a more diverse set of GOP voices are sent to Washington," The Hill said, noting however, that Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has welcomed the wide range of ideas that he and other freshmen are bringing to the congressional caucus.
"He's got to represent his district, just like other members represent theirs," Walden told The Hill. "We've got a lot of diversity in our conference on this issue to begin with. He's a good, strong addition to our conference, and I'm glad that he's here."
At the same time, Curbelo is not the only lawmaker opposed to the GOP leadership's position on immigration. Two other Cuban-American Republicans from Florida, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, have also been critical of GOP leaders for refusing to advance the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill.
Curbelo "understands that first and foremost, he needs to be loyal to his convictions and his voters. He is not there to be part of a choir," Florida-based Republican strategist Ana Navarro, told The Hill. "Carlos will think for himself and stand up for what he thinks is right."
"The Republican Conference and House leadership," she said, "would be smart to look to their three South Florida colleagues to craft a pragmatic solution to move forward on immigration."
Curbelo is in agreement
with the leadership that the president should not act unilaterally on the issue, and he does not believe the party should attempt some of the more extreme measures that some conservatives in the House have proposed, such as a government shutdown or impeachment.
"The past has taught us that those strategies don't work," he said. "Our goal is to move forward on an issue to find a solution for the country, and those strategies aren't going to lead us there," he told The Hill.
"My hope is that either he postpones any actions he plans to take," he said, "or he is very measured and not too ambitious in what he decides to do to give Congress a chance to act."
Curbelo is one of a number of minority members who were swept into office at the midterm elections. The freshman class also includes
another Cuban-American from West Virginia, Alex Mooney, along with two black members, Will Hurd of Texas and Mia Love of Utah.
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