As July comes to a close and August recess begins, prospects for immigration reform in the House of Representatives are looking up. While some saw the pronouncements from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) that the House would not take up the Senate bill as a death knell, it looked more like a bargaining position by the end of the month. “We’re doing it differently in the House,” Goodlatte told Fox Business. Members are still divided about what immigration measure they should consider. Options range from several piecemeal bills—possibly including a limited version of the DREAM Act that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is crafting with Goodlatte—or a comprehensive measure on which seven members are still working. So while the House is not going to meet Boehner’s original goal of passing some form of immigration reform by the end of July, the issue is far from dead.
Because there are only nine legislative days in September and Congress has several fiscal issues to address in that time, the House likely will not vote on any immigration measure until October. But when they do, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said he wants to see all components of immigration reform be brought up for a floor vote, regardless of whether they ultimately receive majority Republican support or not. “We don’t know if we have a majority until we vote on it,” Ryan said at a town hall on Friday. He added that he thinks it would be achievable to get a majority to support the individual components. “I believe what I’ve just laid out is something that a consensus of Republicans and Democrats can agree to,” Ryan said.
And Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who is part of the House group working on a comprehensive immigration bill, said he remains optimistic that the House will pass immigration reform. He told Fox News Latino there is too much momentum for a measure that both improves border security and provides a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. “The support for immigration reform is too broad,” Gutierrez said. “Karl Rove supports it, Democratic strategists support it, evangelical and South Baptists both have joined to support it, the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce both support it, and Cesar Chavez’s son and growers have reached an agreement on it.”
Many outside groups also are pushing for the House to act on immigration. More than 100 Republican donors sent a letter Tuesday to House Republicans urging them to support an overhaul of the nation’s stymied immigration system, including a path to citizenship. “We write to urge you to take action to fix our broken immigration system,” the letter reads. And more than 400 organizations—including Facebook, Google, IBM, and Hilton—called on House leaders to improve the nation’s immigration policies. In a letter to Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the groups representing the agriculture, housing, technology, and retail industries asked the congressional leaders to “not let this momentum slip and progress vanish” on immigration reform. “Failure to act is not an option. We can’t afford to be content and watch a generation-old immigration system work more and more against our overall national interest,” they write.
All signs point to progress in the House on an immigration bill or package of bills as members return to their districts during recess. Members on both sides of the aisle are open to moving forward, so now it is up to House leadership to guarantee it happens. The House needs to consider the right measure at the right time in order get a piece of legislation through Congress that will improve our current immigration system, and hopefully they will work quickly after hearing from constituents in August.
Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore.
FILED UNDER: immigration legislation, immigration reform, Republicans