Majority Whip Scalise is on track to move up to majority leader amid the leadership shuffle set off by House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation announcement last month.
But critics assail Scalise's record as whip, which they say shows he is not fully pursuing efforts to toughen border protection, tighten immigration controls and oppose President Obama's executive order on the status of five million illegal immigrants.
NumbersUSA, a D.C.-based organization focused on the reduction of both illegal and legal immigration, gives Scalise a D-minus rating.
“He has been disappointing to us on rolling back the executive amnesty. And he has been very harmful in his efforts with these trade pacts, in terms of not insisting on protections for workers in the foreign worker provisions of trade pacts they have voted on this year,” NumbersUSA founder and executive director Roy Beck said. “So that is why he has such a low grade.”
Scalise has served as whip since 2014. Beck — whose group roundly opposes immigration reform that would provide amnesty to illegal immigrants and allow non-citizens to enter the U.S. labor force — gave the New Orleans-born congressman better reviews before he became whip.
“That adds a very interesting twist to all of this,” Beck said. “Before he got into leadership he primarily took the side of tighter labor markets, less immigration and more enforcement against illegal immigration.”
Scalise spokesman Chris Bond said the majority whip has been a staunch opponent of immigration reform who has made top priorities out of border control and immigration.
“As majority whip, he made sure the House fulfilled their promise to Americans by funding DHS for the rest of this fiscal year, while stopping President Obama from moving forward on illegal executive actions on immigration,” Bond told AMI Newswire in a statement.
“And he’s also led the fight against lawless behavior, like so-called ‘sanctuary cities,’ which not only represent a direct affront to the rule of law; they create dangerous gaps in our criminal justice system that put American citizens at risk.”
The immigration issue is an important one for House leadership. Former majority leader Eric Cantor lost his seat in Congress in a primary loss in 2014 that many attributed, in part, to his stance in support of immigration reform.
Beck asked how Scalise might run the Republicans' substantial House majority.
“The bottom line is I look at Scalise both as his D-minus record and his B-record career,” Beck said. “Which Scalise will we get?”
Scalise serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Prior to being elected to Congress, he sat for four months in the Louisiana State Senate and twelve years in the Louisiana House of Representatives.