The new Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, has passed over an outspoken immigration hard-liner and member of the Tea Party caucus for chairman of the immigration subcommittee
In an announcement Friday, Mr. Smith unexpectedly gave the job of chairman of the subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement to Representative Elton Gallegly, a conservative Republican from California.
Representative Steve King of Iowa, who was the senior Republican on the subcommittee in the last Congress and was expected to take over as chairman, was named vice chairman instead. Mr. King is known for his high-profile support for measures to crack down on illegal immigration.
In an interview late Friday, Mr. King made no secret of his surprise and disappointment. “I don’t know I can explain it,” he said.
Rep. Gallegly isn't substantively all that different from Rep. King -- he even supports repealing part of the Fourteenth Amendment in order to eliminate birthright citizenship. Nonetheless, rhetorically he's nowhere near King's league (King once advocated adding a non-lethal electrical current to our border fence as a deterrent, saying "We do that with livestock all the time."). Presumably, King's extremism has reached the point where it is seen as an embarrassment to the House Republican leadership, and they're looking to clamp down.
And while sometimes a quieter voice for the same radical policies can be more effective and thus more dangerous, I don't actually think any of the most excessive Republicana anti-immigrant provisions are going anywhere, so it's only a good thing that the level of overheated hyperbole directed against undocumented immigrants (and their children) will be reduced at least a little bit.