After House Republicans met in conference on Wednesday for several hours discussing their pathway forward on immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Conference Chairman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte stated they will not take up the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill in their chamber of Congress.
“Today House Republicans affirmed that rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system,” the House GOP leadership officials said in a joint statement.
“The American people want our border secured, our laws enforced, and the problems in our immigration system fixed to strengthen our economy. But they don’t trust a Democratic-controlled Washington, and they’re alarmed by the president’s ongoing insistence on enacting a single, massive, Obamacare-like bill rather than pursuing a step-by-step, common-sense approach to actually fix the problem.”
“The president has also demonstrated he is willing to unilaterally delay or ignore significant portions of laws he himself has signed, raising concerns among Americans that this administration cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate.”
The House GOP leadership did not, however, rule out considering the Senate Gang of Eight bill in a conference report between the House and Senate. In their joint op-ed calling for the House to kill the Senate bill, National Review editor Rich Lowry and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol called on the House to refuse to take the bill to conference. “In any case, House Republicans should make sure not to allow a conference with the Senate bill,” they wrote in part in their op-ed.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel did not respond to Breitbart News’ request for comment on whether the Speaker would actually refuse to take up the Gang of Eight bill in conference.
According to a report in The Hill, one anonymous lawmaker said that Boehner is more than open to going to a conference with the Senate bill.
“The Speaker said that we’re going to have a majority of the conference for anything that goes over (to the Senate) or comes back (from conference),” a lawmaker at the meeting said.
“People were asking, ‘well can you guarantee me what’s going to come back from conference won’t be the Senate bill-light?'”
“(Boehner) said ‘I can’t guarantee what’s going to come back from conference because it hasn’t happened yet but I can guarantee that we’re going to have something a majority of the conference accepts,” a lawmaker in the room told The Hill.
Another hole conservatives may find in the House GOP leadership statement is that it did not explicitly promise that law enforcement–border security and interior immigration law enforcement–would come before legalization of America’s illegal immigrants. Boehner previously made that promise in a statement to reporters, but it notably was missing from this statement. Steel similarly did not respond when asked why that promise was not in this joint GOP leadership statement.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the senator who by and large led the charge in the Senate against the bill, said in an op-ed Wednesday afternoon that “Republicans should make no effort to salvage it or to offer even the slightest hope of revival.”
“Instead, we should draw sharp and bold contrasts that earn the loyalty of our faithful supporters and the newfound respect of the millions of working Americans who have turned away,” Sessions wrote.
Earlier in his op-ed piece, Sessions noted that the GOP should try to connect with working Americans who have been ignored during this immigration debate. “If there is any lesson for the GOP to learn from 2012, it’s that we must do a better job fighting for and connecting with working Americans of all backgrounds–immigrant and native-born alike–whose wages have fallen and whose employment opportunities have increasingly diminished,” Sessions said. “In pushing for this bill, the Left has abandoned and taken for granted the struggling worker.”