House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that the House of Representatives will not go to a conference committee with the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. “We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill,” Boehner said on Wednesday.
The remarks from the Speaker come several months after the Senate bill passed 68-32, with most Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voting against it. Fourteen Republicans, including the four GOP members of the Senate’s Gang of Eight, voted for it.
Boehner’s promise against conference comes on the heels of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the leading GOP sponsor of the Senate bill, publicly opposing conference in a Breitbart News exclusive and after scores of conservatives publicly demanded there not be a conference committee. Rubio’s opposition to conference, an effective un-endorsement of his own bill, was significant and followed calls opposing conference from Sens. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (R-AL), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (R-UT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (R-KY), as well as several influential House Republicans.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a one-time member of the House’s version of the “Gang of Eight,” came out in opposition to a conference committee in response to a question from Breitbart News at a press conference. Labrador said he thought it would be “crazy” for House GOP leadership to negotiate with the Senate bill because Democrats were trying to use immigration reform as a tool to “destroy” the Republican Party.
Other influential House members like House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) (R-TX) and Reps. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) (R-AL), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) (R-AZ), Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) (R-TX), Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) (R-FL), Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) (R-AZ), among others, have publicly opposed conference as well.
Boehner’s decision to publicly oppose a conference committee on the Gang of Eight bill is at odds with members like House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)–who has publicly said that there should be a conference committee–and House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who have both publicly left open the door to a conference committee while working on immigration bills.
This move also bucks Senate and House Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Gang of Eight members like Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). House Minority Leader Rep. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (D-VA) also has publicly called for a conference committee.
While the battle against amnesty is not over yet–informal negotiations, as the National Review‘s Andrew Stiles has written, still remain a distant possibility–this is a major victory for conservatives in that the Speaker of the House is now on the record as saying he and the House of Representatives will not, under any circumstances, enter into formal negotiations with the Democratic Senate on amnesty.
But as Sens. Sessions and Lee laid out in their op-ed for Breitbart News recently, there is still concern about immigration negotiations happening in secret outside of conference committee. “Another danger is that, after the House passes several smaller bills, congressional leaders could handpick negotiators to meet in secret and develop a ‘compromise’ plan to ‘fix’ the Senate bill and bring the new–even larger–comprehensive proposal to a vote in both chambers,” they wrote in September for Breitbart News.