House Republicans Huddling on Immigration With No Clear Consensus
House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
House Republicans will have a meeting of the minds Wednesday, but it remains unclear if the fractious group of lawmakers will be able to reach a consensus on a path forward with immigration reform.
Despite pressure from the Senate, which last month convincingly passed a bipartisan plan, and calls from the White House and advocacy groups asking for haste, there is no indication House lawmakers feel the same sense of urgency to pass legislation.
One thing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has made clear is that his chamber will craft its own immigration bill rather than take up the Senate version.
“We all believe that if we’re going to go forward on immigration reform, the first big step is you have to have serious border security because without serious border security, what you’re going to end up with is the same thing we saw after the 1986 act,” Boehner said Tuesday. “We believe that a commonsense, step-by-step approach is the right way. We’ve talked about it for months. We’re going to talk to our members about it tomorrow.”
Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei write in Politico that the deliberative pace in the House could cause the push to reform the immigration system to stall out:
Republicans walked away from their 2012 debacle hell-bent on fixing their problems with Hispanics. Now, they appear hell-bent on making them worse.
In private conversations, top Republicans on Capitol Hill now predict comprehensive immigration reform will die a slow, months-long death in the House. Like with background checks for gun buyers, the conventional wisdom that the party would never kill immigration reform, and risk further alienating Hispanic voters, was always wrong — and ignored the reality that most House Republicans are white conservatives representing mostly white districts.
These members, and the vast majority of their voters, couldn’t care less whether Marco Rubio, Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove say this is smart politics and policy.
As Boehner seeks to wrangle his unruly conference, he is not getting any help from the top Democrat in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., charged Tuesday that the speaker was having difficulty controlling his members on a wide range of issues, including immigration.
“Speaker Boehner is trying to decide where he is. Pick an issue. How about the farm bill? Last year’s farm bill, this year’s farm bill. He has dissension in his own ranks. We know that,” Reid told reporters at a Capitol Hill stakeout. “He is saying the bipartisan bill that we have done, he is not going to touch that. Well, we’re going to continue to press. The American people, the vast majority of the American people, Democrats and Republicans, support what we did.”
The Senate proposal would create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country and would bolster security along the southern border through the hiring of additional border patrol agents and completing 700 miles of fencing. It passed late last month on a 68 to 32 vote, with 14 Republicans joining all 54 Senate Democrats to back the measure.
But if recent history is any guide, a strong showing in the Senate does not guarantee a similar result in the House.
The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake highlight six previous votes in the House that have seen GOP leaders struggle to keep the varying factions of the conference together and note those battles could be a preview of what is to come for Republicans on immigration reform:
The six votes that have proved most divisive for the GOP conference since the November election — on the fiscal cliff, Hurricane Sandy relief, the debt limit, the Violence Against Women Act, the farm bill and the selection of a speaker — each seemed to leave Boehner and his team in a weaker position for the next round of battle. And immigration may be the toughest test yet for Republicans, who will be grappling with difficult questions about border security and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
All told, 69 of 234 House Republicans (nearly 30 percent) have voted against leadership on at least half of the six key votes, and a majority — 134 out of 234– has departed from the leadership on at least two of the six votes, according to the Washington Post review.
The six key votes are not a perfect predictor of how members will vote on immigration, but they show how little emphasis members place on party unity these days.
With the debate formally getting underway in the House, the Huffington Post put together an interactive whip count outlining how members are likely to vote on immigration reform, with nearly 140 lawmakers, mostly Republicans, listed as “unknown.”
President Barack Obama’s White House, meanwhile, Wednesday morning released a report on the economic impact of a comprehensive bill. The report focused mainly on a June Congressional Budget Office estimate that found the legislation would reduce the deficit and argued there are “high costs” to inaction.
“[I]mmigration reform will ultimately increase overall U.S. productivity, resulting in higher GDP and higher wages,” the report read. “Bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows and into the legal economy also helps put a stop to practices that undercut wages and worsen working conditions for American workers. This bill also has provisions to protect U.S. workers and ensure that new worksite enforcement and border security measures deter future illegal immigration.”
And former President George W. Bush, whose legacy has been burnished in recent months, will make the case for reform at a naturalization ceremony at his presidential library Wednesday. We’ll have video of the 9 a.m. event.
As part of the NewsHour’s ongoing look at immigration reform, Ray Suarez spoke Tuesday with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., about his border security proposal and prospects for Congress passing a bill this year.
Watch the segment here or below:
Ray will speak with Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, on the show Wednesday.
See our other interviews with lawmakers and track every piece of the debate on our immigration page.
The Texas state House passed by 98-49 a measure banning abortion more than 20 weeks after fertilization, sending the controversial legislation to the state Senate.
Senate Democrats are meeting Thursday about options for filibuster reform, with Reid ready to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” to limit filibusters for executive branch nominations.
The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman breaks more news about the relationship between Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams and Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. Williams gave McDonnell’s and his sister’s real estate corporation — MoBo — $70,000 in 2012, which McDonnell didn’t disclose as a loan or gift and has yet to repay. Also unknown until now, Williams wrote McDonnell’s wife a $50,000 check in 2011.
And McDonnell’s 21-year-old son, Sean, was arrested in Charlottesville on charges of public intoxication.
Libertarian gun rights activist Adam Kokesh was arrested at his Northern Virginia home Wednesday on drug and weapons charges. Kokesh, who had scrapped plans to lead a gun march into Washington on Independence Day, was allegedly depicted in a web video loading a shotgun in Freedom Plaza during the holiday celebration, a violation of D.C. law.
Republicans will strip food stamps from the farm bill and move that legislation for a solo vote.
“Ready for Hillary” is teaming up with 270 Strategies, founded by former Obama aides.
Vice President Joe Biden addressed the memorial service for the firefighters killed last week in Arizona.
Illinois became the last state in the country to allow residents to carry concealed firearms in public places after the state legislature voted Tuesday to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s attempt to rewrite the bill.
The New York Times details House Republicans’ efforts to seize on opportunity and delay the individual mandate in the health care law.
Former New York governor and current comptroller hopeful Elliot Spitzer appeared on Charlie Rose, with guest host Mark Halperin.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told Sean Hannity she is considering a 2014 Senate bid against Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.
Politico reports that the acting head of the embattled Internal Revenue Service “is moving to halt $70 million in scheduled bonus payouts.”
Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report details how campaign finance guidelines may apply differently to gay couples, depending on where they live.
Student loan rates: still doubled.
Public Policy Polling has the first survey ahead of a special election in North Carolina to replace Rep. Mel Watt.
The Associated Press’ Charles Wilson reports that there is newly found “film footage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt being pushed in his wheelchair, depicting a secret that was hidden from the public until after his death.”
Vanity Fair gives BuzzFeed a dose of their own medicine.
- On Wednesday and Thursday, Christina continues guest-hosting for Kojo Nnamdi on WAMU 88.5 in Washington D.C. Tune in. Listen to Tuesday’s segments on the quantified self movement and Superman. Yes, really.
- Could changing demographics help Democrats break Republican control of Texas politics in the coming years? Gwen Ifill explored the subject Tuesday with James Henson of the University of Texas at Austin and Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University. Watch the segment here or below:
Read after breakfast: Jenny Marder reports on “dog vomit” mold.
Paul Solman caught up with Julliard graduates learning to translate their “artistic magic” into means of financial support, which it turns out, is not a new phenomenon. (Check out how Rossini kept opera afloat)!
- And our resident headhunter Nick Corcodilos explains how to beat age discrimination to land — and keep — a job as a senior.
Suspect will see so much more of this >>> Conservative Think Tank Trolls State Agencies Looking For IRS-Like Scandal http://t.co/qBKdWvEhhS
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 10, 2013
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) July 9, 2013
Yacht in Georgetown named Sea Questered. So 1% DC. pic.twitter.com/TGm7WiUdQg
— Sam Jewler (@LuddoftheFuture) July 9, 2013
What happened to Arugula? RT @steveholland1: A kid journalist asked Obama today what his favorite food is. His answer? Broccoli.
— Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) July 9, 2013
Mine is bacon. RT @bdomenech: My favorite vegetable is guacamole.
— Chris Moody (@Chris_Moody) July 9, 2013
— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) July 9, 2013
Reading twitter feed from afar, sure looks like a slow day for DC journos.
— Dan Balz (@danbalz) July 9, 2013
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 9, 2013
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) July 9, 2013
— Michael Martinez (@MikeMartinezDC) July 9, 2013
Simone Pathe contributed to this report.
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