The Republican-led US House will delay consideration of immigration Bills until this fall, diminishing the chances that President Barack Obama will sign his top domestic priority into law by year’s end.
House Republicans’ decision to act in a piecemeal fashion, instead of on one comprehensive immigration Bill, points to a drawn-out process that may spill into the 2014 midterm election season and jeopardise final negotiations.
“It’s a long and winding road till we actually get to a final product,” Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said.
Democrats say that if Congress doesn’t agree on legislation by the end of the year, an immigration-law revision may fall by the wayside.
“It’s unlikely that it’s going to happen in an election year,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said in Washington.
The House is starting to assemble its strategy for a rewrite of immigration laws almost six months after the Democratic-led Senate began talks and two weeks after the Senate passed its broad plan.
The Senate Bill, S. 744, combines a path to citizenship for 11 million unregistered immigrants already in the US with a $46 billion border-security plan. While 14 Senate Republicans joined Democrats in passing the Bill, many Republicans oppose the citizenship path.
“We are not going to do the Senate bill,” House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters. “I have said this since May the 23rd.”
After a private two-hour meeting on July 10, House Republicans reaffirmed their plan to handle immigration legislation through individual Bills, acting first to strengthen border security before addressing other issues.
“Securing our borders and having the ability to enforce our immigration laws are the first big steps in this process,” Boehner told reporters.
Action in July is “100% unlikely,” Representative John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican, said after the meeting.
Boehner wouldn’t say whether he thought the House could pass legislation, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Democrats say such a provision must be part of any immigration plan.
Obama has said he wants to sign the immigration legislation by the end of this year. The issue is his highest domestic priority thus far in his second term, after he won 71% of the Hispanic vote in November. Republicans, in turn, want to boost their party’s appeal with Hispanics after 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney promoted self-deportation as the answer to illegal immigration.
If Republicans don’t act on immigration,