Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) conceded that GOP leaders currently do not have the votes in the House for amnesty legislation, but he also said that he hoped immigration legislation could be passed this year.
In an interview with the hometown Janesville Gazette that was published on Monday, Ryan said House GOP leaders are scrambling to try to find enough votes to pass immigration legislation.
“We don’t have the votes right now,” he said. “Right now, we’re working hard to find where that consensus lies.”
Even though the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office determined that amnesty legislation would lower the wages of American workers, Ryan was defensive when asked if he was supporting amnesty because he wanted to provide cheap labor to businesses.
“The cheapest political trick in the book is to call someone a name and try and create a caricature of them,” he said.
According to Roll Call, there are 18 House Republicans who support the leadership’s “immigration principles.” The principles were released at a House GOP retreat in Maryland, but Republican leaders immediately retreated after senators, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), slammed it as amnesty and said they would not proceed with immigration bills until they could trust President Barack Obama to enforce the country’s immigration laws. Amnesty opponents felt the stalling may have been a head fake to cool the temperature on the issue so Republican leaders could try to round up enough votes in support of immigration reform.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has said that amnesty opponents must be vigilant because the House GOP leadership could try to ram through legislation even during the lame duck period. Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) have said that this year could be the last chance to pass significant amnesty legislation. And President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have said they both want to get amnesty legislation done this year.
All they are lacking, though, as Ryan conceded, are the votes.