House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), one of the top proponents for bringing a major immigration reform bill to the House floor this year, raised serious doubts about the likelihood of such legislation in remarks on ABC’s This Week.
Asked by host George Stephanopolis if he expected President Obama to sign a bill this year, Ryan said “I really don’t know the answer to that question. That is clearly in doubt….I just don’t know if that’s going to be the case or not.”
Ryan said Republicans are willing to walk away if Democrats can’t agree to his favored approach and that even if they did, he’s still not sure it would find Republican support.
“This is a, ‘here are our standards, this is our approach, if you want to do it this way, this is what we’re willing to do.’ And we’re still having a debate in our caucus about even that. But we don’t think we can allow this border to be continue to be overrun. And if we can get security first, no amnesty, before anything happens, we think that is a good approach,” he said.
Ryan’s remarks are the first major signal from a top GOP official signal about the leadership’s interpretation of a closed-door meeting on Thursday where rank-and-file members expressed disapproval for moving on a bill this year by at least an 80-20 ratio.
Ryan also provided greater detail about how the GOP’s approach might be structured. Referring to provisions to increase border security and interior security, Ryan said “those things have to be in law, in practice, and independently verified before the rest of the law can occur. So it’s a security-first non-amnesty approach.”
That statement is important because it implies key details about how he would like to proceed that are at issue in the internal debate.
First, Ryan suggested there would be a single piece of legislation (“the law”) that includes both security and legalization provisions. Secondly, Ryan implied legalization would be in that single bill but that security benchmarks would need to be met before “the rest of the law can occur.”