Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, really hates the Affordable Care Act, but if he had to choose, he'd take it over the pending 844-page Senate immigration bill any day.
"I have spent years of my life fighting against Obamacare...It is an unconstitutional taking of our bodies, our health, our skin and everything inside it," King said outside the Capitol on Tuesday. "I would take Obamacare and try to live with that before I'd ever accept this amnesty plan...If it passes, the genie of the left will have escaped from the bottle and he will be as amorphous as a puff of smoke."
King gathered with like-minded lawmakers in the first public demonstration that some House Republicans are lining up to kill the Senate "gang of eight's" immigration dream.
The demonstration of less than a dozen House Republicans showcased a key division amongst the House caucus. The outcry is representative of the forces House leadership will have to either win over or run over if they want to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
While many conservative and fiscal-minded Republican leaders have come to the conclusion that the party needs to get engaged in immigration reform to make the GOP politically solvent in future presidential elections, a handful of rank-and-file members resist the assumption that Latinos will ever vote for the GOP, and are digging in their heels.
Some GOP leaders "would sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of political expediency for purposes of starting a conversation that would ensure that Republicans don't win another national election," King said.
Some of the lawmakers at the event told reporters they are increasingly getting pressure from GOP leaders that this is a move the party must take to remain competitive in upcoming elections. But they said they are not willing to undermine their principles even to put a few points on the political scoreboard.
"I don't do what I do based on votes," says Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. "You do not sacrifice your principles for political expediency. That is the wrong direction to go. That undermines what has made America a great country."
Many cited the contentious Heritage Foundation study released last week as further evidence of why giving legal status to 11 million immigrants who came to the country illegally would be disastrous for the nation's ballooning deficit.
"America cannot afford to open massive immigration floodgates anymore than it can afford an amnesty plan that rewards illegal conduct while adding $6.3 trillion to America's already dangerous and exploding national debt," Brooks said.
The Heritage study concluded that the path to citizenship portion of the bill alone would cost $6.3 trillion during the next 50 years. Although many criticized that the study made sweeping generalizations and failed to dynamically score the rest of the bill, which economists have found would actually boost the economy. One of the authors of the study, Jason Richwine, stepped down after it was revealed he wrote his dissertation on how immigrants had lower IQs.
Other lawmakers argued that immigration reform would put the country's national security at risk, referencing the Boston terrorism attack.
"If the FBI does not have the resources to check one individual who Russia has given us a heads up on as radicalized and wanting to harm America," says Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas. "Do you think the system will be better if we add 11.5 million more people all of a sudden?"
Some Senate Republicans such as Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Jeff Sessions - both members of the Judiciary Committee considering the legislation - have called on the Senate to slow down in light of recent attack. The demonstration by House members Tuesday, however, called for a complete halt to the immigration debate until the border is entirely secure and the country has put in place a visa verification system to keep individuals from overstaying.