Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) announced his plan to add the ‘Gang of Eight’ comprehensive immigration legislation to any border crisis package that House Republicans might pass, a revelation so likely to diminish conservative support for the bill that it suggests he’s trying to spike the House package.
“If they pass that, maybe it’s an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform,” Reid told reporters Tuesday when asked about the House Republican border package produced by Texas Representative Kay Granger’s working group.
“He can’t do that, he doesn’t have the votes,” a House leadership aide said in response, dismissing Reid’s comments as an attempt to kill the bill in the House.
When a reporter asked if that threat might discourage House members from passing anything, Reid denied that he was “threatening anything.”
Reid’s remarks can only elevate the fears of immigration hawks who have urged House Republicans from passing any legislation.
“I don’t want to see a vehicle coming out of the House that gives Harry Reid a chance to attach the Gang of Eight language to it and then send it back to the House and say, ‘We have all of these kids that are down here pouring into the United States, and we can’t fix that unless you first pass amnesty,’” Representative Steve King (R., Iowa) told National Review Online to explain why he hadn’t introduced a bill containing his preferred legislative remedy to the crisis.
The original Republican members of the immigration ‘Gang of Eight’ have pledged not to support using the border crisis bill as a Trojan horse for comprehensive immigration legislation.
“Any legislation considered this year must be focused exclusively on addressing the current crisis, halting the flow of unaccompanied children crossing the border and preventing future waves from making the dangerous journey north,” Senators Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), John McCain (R. Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), and Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) said in a joint statement last week.
Reid denounced Republicans for obstructing President Obama’s legislative priorities.
Moments later, when asked if he had reached out to House leadership in order to broker a compromise between the House Republicans and Senate Democrats, Reid dismissed the House package as “a meaningless piece of legislation that would only make things worse.”
A Senate Republican aide told NRO on Monday, even before Reid raised the specter of a Gang of Eight conference, that Democrats don’t want House Republicans to pass anything.
“I think what they’re doing is they’re sitting out, waiting, hoping, that the House doesn’t pass anything so that they can say that Republicans left town without doing anything on the border,” the aide speculated.