President Obama, Chuck Schumer and Luis Gutierrez are warning the GOP Obama will enact unilateral amnesty if the House doesn’t pass immigration legislation before August, and the Capitol is full of intrigue and discussions about what might take place.
But Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the most influential Republican on the issue outside of House leadership, said there are currently no plans to bring immigration bills to the House floor before the chamber departs for summer, heading into an election season abyss.
“I am not aware of any such decisions,” Goodlatte said Wednesday when asked about bringing immigration legislation to the floor before August recess.
Goodlatte also said that while there have been discussions about how to address 11 million illegal aliens already in the country, “there is no concerted plan with regard to that” and no legislative text. House immigration “principles” released in February called for “legal status,” but not citizenship, for illegal immigrants.
That’s not to say that immigration isn’t being discussed. For instance, in a previously unpublicized effort, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) have been discussing “guest worker” legislation, although Poe suggested the talks were at an impasse.
“We have talked about it. We don’t have a bill. We haven’t resolved it,” Poe said, adding there are a lot of issues ” We haven’t solved them, I don’t think.”
Another name involved in discussing the issue, and a surprising one, is Rep. Mick Mulvaney, (R-SC) several sources said. Mulvaney’s office did not return a request for comment.
Immigration talks with conservatives like Labrador are surprising because Republicans have been adamant that Obama has recently proven an untrustworthy partner for enacting immigration reform.
Thursday, for example, Republicans grilled Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson on the issue.
“One of the things that the president and Johnson — again causing problems in this area — is that he is working on this. He is consulting with the president,” Goodlatte said in Wednesday’s interview. “The president has assigned him that responsibility and it is outside the responsibility of the administrative branch — anyone in the administrative branch of our government — to change our immigration laws unilaterally, using that pen and cell phone again that he president so noted and you’ve got to take it seriously because he’s done it in a number of areas of the law and he’s done it in this immigration area in the past.”
House Republicans are under intense pressure from the Obama administration, Democrats, and amnesty activists to pass immigration reform by August.
Tuesday administration officials revealed that Obama has asked Johnson to delay releasing a DHS review of deportation policies until the end of summer to give Congress a chance to act on immigration reform. Critics expect the review will further water down immigration enforcement.
That same day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned that if Congress does not take up immigration reform Obama will.
“If the Republicans don’t do something by August first, the president is going to have to do something administratively,” Reid said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King pressed Johnson about DHS’ look at deportations during a Thursday House Judiciary Committee hearing, calling the delayed review a “Sword of Damocles” over House members’ head.
Johnson declined to offer any details about the review, saying doing so would be premature.
Of the pressure, Goodlatte said Wednesday that the goal should be getting immigration reform done correctly, not adhering to a timetable.
“So that should not pressure the House of Representatives, we should not do this unless there is a clear, strong majority of the majority that’s ready to move forward on a plan that’s enforcement first and that is certainly my message to every member of the House Republican Conference from the leadership on through,” Goodlatte said.
When asked if leadership is feeling a sense of urgency, Goodlatte said, “Well first of all we should continue to work on immigration reform,” harkening back to the four bill the Judiciary Committee has passed.
“Those bills could be brought to the floor, but that’s not my decision and I have not had any conversations in recent times with leadership either about that or about any response they might make to the president’s recent comments, which I take as a threat. But I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to them about that,” he added.