Negotiators close to immigration deal in Congress
March 19th, 2013
02:38 PM ET
2 years ago

Negotiators close to immigration deal in Congress

Washington (CNN) - A day after the Republican National Committee released a post-election report calling for comprehensive immigration reform, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that the bipartisan House group working on legislation is "essentially in agreement" on a plan to address the politically controversial issue.

Boehner emphasized he's intent on getting something done in the House, telling reporters, "I made clear the day after the election that dealing with immigration reform was a top priority and it is."

The optimism among leaders in the House is bipartisan.

The number two House Democrat also signaled the bipartisan talks are close to a deal that would include a pathway to citizenship, saying he expected an agreement to be reached "in the near term."

"They are very close. I think they've made real progress. I think the group of eight is a pretty broad group of people, representing a pretty broad stretch of philosophy in the House of Representatives," Rep Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday, saying the Democrats in the group have briefed leaders.

Boehner told reporters Tuesday that he and top GOP leaders met last week with the four House Republicans talking to House Democrats- Reps Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, Sam Johnson, R-Texas, John Carter, R-Texas, and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho – and said "they are essentially in agreement over how to proceed."

The four House Democrats involved in the talks are Reps Xavier Becerra, D-California, Rep Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, Rep Zoe Lofgren, D-California, and Rep John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky.

The eight members of the group have been reluctant to talk publicly about their bipartisan negotiations. Some of these members have been working on the issue on drafting an immigration bill since Congress failed to get a deal done in 2007.

These House members worry that if details leak out of the talks they could potentially blow up the discussions. But some have also expressed optimism and indicated that they believe they are farther along in drafting legislation detailing their proposal than a Senate group which released its framework in late January.

Meanwhile, that group of eight bipartisan senators is also getting closer to an agreement on an immigration bill. Sources close to the process tell CNN they hope to make an announcement in April, when the Senate returns from a two week spring break.

GOP sources in both the House and Senate tell CNN the fact that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, a tea party favorite, is calling for immigration reform will help their efforts in assuaging conservative concerns.

Hoyer pointed to the RNC report as proof the GOP is repositioning itself on immigration.

"I think the Republican Chairman and the Speaker I think recognizes that a very large growing majority of the electorate believes that comprehensive immigration reform is good for the country," Hoyer said. "As a result I think that Republicans feel they need to be for such legislation."

Boehner indicated in late January the House group was making progress, but on Tuesday he also revealed that House Republican leaders are stepping up efforts to educate rank and file Republicans about immigration – or, as a House GOP leadership aide admitted, trying to lay the ground work with conservatives to keep them from blowing up any bipartisan bill GOP leaders admit they need as a first step towards luring Hispanic voters back to the GOP.

Both the House GOP conference and the House GOP policy committee have held 'listening sessions" and leaders are putting together an "education plan" to brief members on the myriad of issues that could be part of a major overhaul of the current immigration system.

While he hailed the progress of the House group, Boehner did caution that there's still a lot of groundwork to do within the GOP conference before moving a major immigration bill in the House.

"This is just the beginning of the process – a lot of education needs to be done because more than half of our members have never dealt with issue of immigration reform – both on the legal side and the illegal side," the Speaker said.

Pressed on his take on the proposal to provide a pathway to citizenship, Boehner didn't directly answer the question, saying "there's a lot of issues in here that have to be dealt with, but I think what this bipartisan group came up with is frankly a pretty responsible solution."

Boehner said he did not have a timetable for the immigration bill in the House.

Hoyer pointed to the bipartisan efforts in the Senate and said, "I am very optimistic that we will get to passing a bill in the Senate and the House that the president can sign –on comprehensive immigration and a pathway towards citizenship, which I think has got to be part of any comprehensive immigration reform."


Filed under: Congress • Immigration
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. ghostriter

    Hilarious! The same proposal that Obama outlined in the Dream Act is basically the same proposal put forth by Rubio and Paul. Tea bags screamed at Obama's proposal. Yet remain silent when their candidate de jour puts forth the same thing.

    Where are all the rants about pandering to get votes? Republicans said publicly that this "shift" is due to getting votes. Not one peep. Pathway = amnesty? Why come no rants about that?

    I swear, you baggers are too funny for me. You will support this unless told otherwise by Rush and Co.

    March 19, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  2. California Conservative

    Without securing the borders any reform is pointless.

    March 19, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. Al-NY,NY

    Wait until the end, when the T-Trolls sabotage it. Just like sequestration.

    March 19, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Funny dynamic will take place here though:

    House GOPers/Teatrolls likely feel somewhat safe about a pathway to citizenship because of the gerrymandering that let them win the House control again despite losing the popular vote for the House by over 1.3M votes.

    GOP/Teatroll Senators, since they have to deal with state-wide elections, won't feel quite so comfortable about anything involving a pathway to citizenship and, if this comrpomise bill in the House contains one, they will filibuster it.

    March 19, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Although the Repubican National Committee called for immigration reform, can Speaker Boehner convince Tea Partiers and social conservatives in his caucus to vote for a compromise bill?

    March 19, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    I see the GOP as desperate to remove the issue from the voter booth........but all they will actually do, is hand the Dem socialists another strong voting bloc, that favors the Dems.

    March 19, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  7. pjoe

    Is there anything more useless than yet another unenforced law?

    March 19, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. link

    deport the illegals please

    March 19, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. Guest

    Discouraging to say the least. As long as we reward those who break our laws nothing will change...FACT! Get ready to pay even more to the undeserving, you're family didnt need any assistance did it?

    March 19, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. kayla

    when you say securing the border, does that include the candian border as well?

    March 19, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. June

    So – as long as we make it clear that they can't win unless they compromise and raise revenue – they will then do that too? Their platform is 100% all self-interest – so lets use it to our advantage. Poll Hispanics about their opinion about closing loopholes for the wealthy to reduce deficits and debt and it will then be a done deal.

    March 19, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    The bottom line is that Republicans are going to claim that *they* got immigration reform done, while Pres. Obama couldn't.

    March 19, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Guest

    The Republican Party is fading. If the GOP actually thinks that simply loosening our immigration laws will gain votes with Latinos then they have lost their minds; this will only serve to open the floodgates. Illegal immigrants are not here for their self-reliance; they are here for their “freedom” and a “better life”, which to them comes from government subsidies. They will vote Democrat, which is the party of big government and is directly adverse to our individualism and true liberty.

    Social Conservatives want our borders protected. We may not be able to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, but neither we do not have to grant them citizenship, government benefits, or lower tuition rates. If the GOP goes down this road, they may gain some Independents and Latino votes but they will lose their base; especially now that the GOP is also caving on Obamacare, taxes, and gun control. GOP, you may have once been the voice of our Rights and our Sovereignty, but you have been cowed by the Democrats/Liberals and you will go extinct.

    March 19, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Repubs want to pass this quick, so they can start spinning how their party is the one championing minorities' rights – when nothing could be further from the truth.

    March 19, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    @Guest: "Discouraging to say the least. As long as we reward those who break our laws nothing will change...FACT! Get ready to pay even more to the undeserving, you're family didnt need any assistance did it?"

    I agree, all those American companies and individuals who have hired illegals over the years should not only be sent to jail, they should have to pay very steep fines to compensate our country for the economic toll their actions have taken.

    March 19, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    @link: "deport the illegals please"

    And fine and jail all the American citizens and companies who've hired illegals over the years.

    March 19, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    @Rick McDaniel: "Dem socialists"

    Please be sure to disconnect yourself from all the infrastructure you use and NEVER call for police/fire/EMT help. We'll also gladly take that reimbursement check for any public education you or your family has received; for any library books you've ever borrowed; fees for using an airport, seaport, municipal bus; driven on any road, highway, bridge; drunk any clean water, eaten any inspected food, had a flu shot (which one determined by the CDC) and any electricity you've consumed that was produced by Bonneville, Hoover or any other public hydroelectric plant.

    Then, just for grins, move to India where folks don't pay any income tax – and have the infrastructure to prove it.

    March 19, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    @California Conservative: "Without securing the borders any reform is pointless."

    Crack down on Americans hiring illegals, the jobs will dry up and the incentive to come here illegally will evaporate.

    March 19, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  19. Vijay

    I hope and pray that both houses pass a comprehensive Immigration bill; it is about time. If it does not reconcile every possible view and opinion that is O.K. Consencus of the two chambers is bound to produce a bill that is infinitely more enlightened than what we have today.

    March 19, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |