Freshman Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has found himself in perhaps a meteoric rise in the Trump Administration. With the palace intrigue of the White House at a fever pitch, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reportedly been on the chopping block for quite some time. CIA Director Mike Pompeo is assumed to be his replacement in the State Department, and there are now murmurs that Cotton is in consideration for head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Of course, these are all unanswered questions, assumptions, and hearsay. But in Washington every word has meaning, and it is important to understand and acknowledge the complex ramifications this theoretical changing of the guard could create for immigration reform.
Senator Cotton, alongside Senator David Perdue of Georgia, crafted the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, widely known as RAISE. Introduced in February 2017, it had the blessing of President Trump, but has since quietly sat in committee. Raise would create a merit-based immigration system and reduce immigration rates by half over the next decade, and follows many of the recommendations of the Jordan Commission on Immigration in 1997 .
We strongly believe that RAISE would have a positive effect on our economy and our environment, but the fate of RAISE could be intertwined with the Senator himself. Would an immigration bill pass in Congress without someone to lead it through? That is uncertain, and as the whispers out of the Administration become ever louder, it is not unreasonable to believe that Cotton could rise ever higher. He is reportedly close with White House Advisor Jared Kushner, and helped bring on retired General John Kelly.
We do not know how much Cotton weighs legislative goals against his own personal ones. A close ally of Cotton said “Six years ago, he was a kid looking for a job and running for a House seat. People who are head of the CIA have a history of being vice-presidential nominees and going on to serve as presidents.” Will he look to forging his own path, or just climb the ladder?