Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, landed a spot on the House Judiciary Committee for 2013 and 2014, where he can expand his portfolio as an expert on immigration reform.
Labrador, easily elected to a second term last month, has been touted as a key player despite having just two years in the House. Labrador's practice of immigration law was attacked by former Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick during the 2010 campaign, but his expertise is welcome among House Republicans seeking to adjust GOP policy to reflect the political reality of a growing Hispanic electorate.
It doesn't hurt that Labrador is a native Spanish speaker who was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the mainland at age 13. Labrador campaigned for Mitt Romney in Nevada, Colorado and Florida, reaching out to Hispanic voters. President Obama ultimately won Hispanic voters by a 71 percent to 27 percent margin, according to exit polling, prompting immediate soul-searching by the GOP and a call for softening the party's position on reform.
Labrador announced the committee assignment late Thursday. I was traveling all day, but returned to Boise to see an email from Labrador aide Phil Hardy, who wrote, "Big news Dan. Very big."
To get Judiciary, Labrador had to surrender his post on the Oversight & Government Reform Committee, where he made a splash by becoming the first member of Congress to call for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder over the "Fast and Furious" scandal.
He remains on the Natural Resources Committee, a key position for Idaho's public lands interests.
A news release from Labrador follows:
LABRADOR ASSIGNED TO JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Idaho First District Congressman Raúl Labrador has been assigned to the House Committee on the Judiciary for the 113th Congress. Committee assignments take effect when the 113th Congress convenes on January 3, 2013.
The House Committee on the Judiciary oversees the administration of justice within federal law enforcement agencies, federal courts, and administrative agencies. The committee has jurisdiction over a variety of procedures and rules, including immigration reform, legal and regulatory reform, intellectual property protections, antitrust laws, counterterrorism activity, and the protection of civil liberties. Measures to deal with the country’s rising debt, such as the Balanced Budget Amendment, also come through the Committee on the Judiciary. Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia will serve as chairman of the committee.
“I am excited to join the Judiciary Committee,” Labrador said. “It will allow me to work on realistic reforms to many of the most important issues facing Idaho and our country. The American people have demanded a more efficient, fair and responsive government and many of those reforms have to go through the Judiciary Committee. One of my top priorities as a member of the committee will be to fix our broken immigration system. I will fight to find a conservative consensus on immigration reform that secures our borders and modernizes our immigration system.”
“Chairman Goodlatte and I have already worked over the last two years on key issues that affect all Americans,” Labrador continued. “I cosponsored his legislation to enact a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We also worked closely on the STEM Jobs Act of 2012 which was recently approved by the House. I look forward to working with the Chairman on the intellectual property protections that are crucial to Idaho’s technology sector.”
This week Politico named Labrador one of five Republicans who matter on immigration, stating that he is “expected to play an outsize role” in the immigration debate. According to Politico, “[t]his freshman with rock-solid conservative credentials is high on the list of likely partners for Democrats on any immigration overhaul. Labrador certainly has the expertise...”
Labrador will retain his seat on the House Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington. That committee’s jurisdiction includes public lands, grazing, fisheries, wildlife, water and irrigation, energy resources, Native American affairs and mining interests.