Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has endorsed the House’s piecemeal approach to immigration reform–and said that the end goal should be a conference committee with the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.
Appearing on Chicago’s Public Radio station’s program “Afternoon Shift” last week, Gutierrez was discussing the different parts of the Senate bill when he said that conference committee is the end goal, regardless of the individual merits of any House bill.
“There’s an ag[riculture] part, a new worker part, there’s a security part, there’s a DREAMer part, there’s a legalization part,” Gutierrez said. “So, really, it’s 800 pages. It isn’t one part. Any interacting and interwoven parts, we can get that done and go to conference where you resolve the differences between the House and the Senate version.”
“We are going to do them piecemeal, but in the end you’re going to have a full menu,” he added.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of the architects of the Senate bill, similarly endorsed the House piecemeal approach. In August, Schumer said that the method is “okay by us” as long as the end goal is a conference committee with the Senate bill. “We would much prefer a big comprehensive bill, but any way that the House can get there is okay by us,” Schumer said then. “I actually am optimistic that we will get this done. I’ve had a lot of discussions with members of both parties in the House. Things are moving in the right direction.”
However, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the leading Republican in the Senate Gang of Eight, has publicly come out against a conference committee, effectively undercutting efforts some had in mind to save the Senate bill.
Gutierrez is working with House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to push for amnesty. Goodlatte continues to publicly leave the door open to conference committee with the Senate’s bill whereas Ryan has publicly advocated for a conference committee. “A lot of people are saying, just pass the Senate bill,” Ryan said in July. “That’s not what the House is going to do. I think we can make it better.”
House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) also have publicly left the door open to conference committee.
Several members of the House have publicly stated there should not be a conference committee with the Senate bill, no matter what the House passes. House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), for instance, has publicly opposed conference and told radio’s Laura Ingraham last week that he thinks Boehner needs to publicly say there will not a be conference on the Senate bill.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said it would be “crazy” for the House GOP leadership to negotiate with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on immigration via a conference committee, because they are using this battle to try to “destroy” the Republican Party. In a piece for the Washington Examiner, Susan Crabtree confirmed the White House’s intentions to use immigration reform as a political bludgeon with which to beat up Republicans. Crabtree wrote that Obama is pushing immigration reform because he is “seeing a chance to further split already-divided Republicans and boost Democrats ahead of the 2014 midterms.”