On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Democrats are willing to do “whatever it takes” to go to conference with the Senate to pass an immigration bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for all of the country’s illegal immigrants.
At a press conference where Pelosi and other Democrats introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation that included most of the provisions in the Senate’s bill (minus some of the border security provisions), Pelosi said she was “prepared to do whatever it takes to go to conference with a joint bill” that would “stop the deportations” and provide a “path to citizenship.” She emphasized that now is the time to “rally around comprehensive immigration reform.”
Pelosi said she and other Democrats were hopeful that the Senate’s immigration bill, which the Congressional Budget Office found would reduce the wages of working class Americans while not solving the illegal immigration problem, would gain traction in the House. However, she said “when it appeared that might not happen,” Democrats met to see what they could cobble together to move the process forward.
She said she deferred to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) “as to the method” to ultimately get the two chambers to conference, saying she was willing to go to conference with “one bill, two bills, one at a time, singly, jointly, severally, whatever.”
Pelosi said that “whatever passes in the House” would go “to the conference table.” She said she would hope that “when we leave the table,” the bill “will have comprehensive immigration reform that will lead to a pathway to citizenship.” She also indicated Democrats would not necessarily reject a bill that did not have a provision for a pathway to citizenship.
Pelosi’s legislation is not likely to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled House, but it is meant to pressure House Republicans who have reportedly been working “beneath the radar” on a variety of immigration reform measures while the country is focused on Obamacare and the debt ceiling. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said last week that he was encouraged by the enthusiasm of Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) for advancing immigration reform bills could get the two chambers to conference.
“I’m happy that he says that he’s moving forward, that he’s looking for a bill that can go to conference,” Gutierrez said, according to NBC News. “That is a step in the right direction.”
As Breitbart News reported, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also said at a town hall in July that the House will attempt to use a piecemeal approach on immigration to get to conference with the Senate. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has said that a pathway to citizenship would be a “fundamental principle” of any final immigration reform bill.
Democrats and Republicans have indicated that many of the Senate’s immigration provisions would win out if both chambers go to conference. Should that occur, there may be enough Republicans in the House who are willing to support a path to legalization that could vote with Democrats on a final bill that gives the country’s illegal immigrants a path to legalization or citizenship.