Immigration Reform Stalls in the House

by Andrew Stiles

Politico reports that House leadership has no plans to vote on immigration-reform legislation before the end of the year:

Following the fiscal battles last month, the internal political dynamics are tenuous within the House Republican Conference. A growing chorus of GOP lawmakers and aides are intensely skeptical that any of the party’s preferred piecemeal immigration bills can garner the support of 217 Republicans — they would need that if Democrats didn’t lend their votes. Republican leadership doesn’t see anyone coalescing around a single plan, according to sources across GOP leadership. Leadership also says skepticism of President Barack Obama within the House Republican Conference is at a high, and that’s fueled a desire to stay out of a negotiating process with the Senate. Republicans fear getting jammed.

The administration’s handling of Obamacare implementation is a key reason for this skepticism. Republicans also suspect that President Obama’s renewed push for a comprehensive immigration-reform bill — he wants one passed by the end of the year — is a political stunt designed to distract from the embarrassing rollout of the health-care exchanges and give Democrats an issue to run on in 2014.

However, it would be premature to declare the issue dead:

Some, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), are eager to pass something before the end of the year. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has signaled publicly that he would like to move forward in 2013 on an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. If Republicans win some Democratic support on piecemeal bills, they could move forward this year. But still, anything that makes its way to the floor needs to have significant House Republican support.

The said, Senator Marco Rubio’s delicate retreat from the Gang of Eight plan he helped write suggests that GOP support for an immigration-reform package Obama finds acceptable will be hard to come by.

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