House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy said, with only 13 congressional working days left in the legislative calendar this year, immigration reform efforts in the House are dead for 2013. McCarthy’s comments came during a meeting with amnesty advocates, but the Associated Press reports that McCarthy’s office confirmed them.
“California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the majority whip, said in a meeting with immigration proponents that there weren’t enough days left for the House to act and he was committed to addressing overhaul of the nation’s immigration system next year,” the Associated Press reported on Friday evening. “The congressman’s office confirmed what he said.”
McCarthy is Majority Whip, the third highest position in GOP Leadership, and his view that no votes on immigration will happen before 2014 is significant. It means President Barack Obama’s signature second-term agenda goal–comprehensive immigration reform complete with an amnesty, or pathway to citizenship, for America’s at least 11 million illegal aliens–will not happen this year.
“What he said was, there’s 13 days left, it’s very hard to do anything in 13 days,” Angelica Salas, the chairwoman of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, said about McCarthy’s meeting with pro-amnesty advocates at which he made the declaration.
Amnesty advocates had stormed McCarthy’s office demanding a meeting Thursday, prompting police to respond to the scene. After they remained in his office for hours that evening, McCarthy and his wife Judy eventually came down to meet with them. It was there, they said, he told them immigration reform efforts in the House are dead this year.
Despite proclaiming immigration reform officially dead for 2013, McCarthy’s office has not ruled out a potential for it to happen in early 2014–in January, February or March–by which time the House would pass a series of what GOP leadership calls piecemeal bills, then use those step-by-step pieces to enter into official negotiations with the Senate on the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration reform bill. That negotiation process is called a conference committee. The Senate passed its bill earlier this year 68-32, with the majority of Senate Republicans voting against it.
Several House Republicans, including House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and others, have announced opposition to a conference committee with the Senate bill, regardless of what happens in the House. They fear Senate Democrats would take advantage of House Republicans in negotiations and achieve most of the aims of the Senate amnesty bill. The Senate bill’s lead GOP sponsor, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), recently reversed course, and now publicly opposes a conference committee between any House bill or group of bills and his Senate bill.
McCarthy’s aides have not commented on the record when asked multiple times if he would publicly rule out conference committee with the Senate bill, as even Rubio has now done. Conservatives fear that, given the amount of money, lobbying pressure, and political pressure from President Obama and the administration, there may still be an effort afoot heading into early 2014 for some type of immigration plan.