Republican leaves House bipartisan immigration effort
June 6th, 2013
10:15 AM ET
8 years ago

Republican leaves House bipartisan immigration effort

(CNN) – The bipartisan group in the House working on immigration reform suffered a blow late Wednesday after Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, left the team over policy disagreements.

The group was close to finalizing its legislation but Labrador said the House "Gang of Eight" could not agree on a provision involving health care for undocumented workers, according to a statement his office issued Wednesday night.

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"I have tremendous respect for the members of the bipartisan group who have been working with me to fix our broken immigration system," Labrador said in a statement. "But after today's meeting, the framework of the bill has changed in a way that I can no longer support."

Many immigration reform advocates were banking on Labrador as a key player to bring on Republican votes. An outspoken conservative, Labrador repeatedly told reporters he wants Republicans to "find a way to get to yes" on major reform.

Labrador first threatened to leave the group two weeks ago when it faced gridlock over how to cover health care costs. GOP members worried state or local governments would be stuck with the costs and Democrats were concerned an undocumented worker who was seriously injured or diagnosed with cancer and couldn't pay for insurance would be deported.

The group ultimately reached an agreement two weeks ago and Labrador stayed on, though they didn't provide details of the compromise.

But it apparently fell apart Wednesday, as Labrador's office said the group "couldn't satisfactorily resolve the issue" and the congressman would not sign onto the legislation.

"I believe that health care is first and foremost a personal responsibility," he said in the statement.

He vowed to keep fighting for a bill that he believes can pass in the House, and two sources told CNN that Labrador informed colleagues he plans to introduce legislation on his own.

Another member of the House "Gang of Eight" insisted the group would move on without Labrador. Republican Rep. Luis Gutierrez said the remaining seven members are committed to crafting a bill that could win support on both sides of the aisle.

"I am sorry to see him pull out, but I think he will be tremendously helpful in getting immigration reform passed by the House and signed by the President this year when all is said and done," Gutierrez said in a statement.

"I guess they will stop calling us the gang of eight, now," he added. "I am hoping they start calling us the Magnificent Seven."

Nonetheless, the congressman's departure represents a new roadblock for those seeking immigration reform in the GOP-controlled House, as the House Judiciary Committee–which marks up immigration legislation–is already stacked with many conservatives skeptical of a deal with Democrats.

Some members in the Senate's "Gang of Eight" met with Labrador and other House members Wednesday as the upper chamber attempts to pass a bill that could have a future in the House.

Many House conservatives, however, made it clear the Senate bill, which includes a pathway to citizenship, is a total nonstarter with them, and cited the House Speaker John Boehner's position that he doesn't plan to bring it up for a vote.

Many, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, pushed for the House to proceed with a series of immigration bills that focused on border security, and criticized the Senate version for not being tough enough on the subject.

Labrador told reporters after the meeting that overall, House conservatives don't like the Senate proposal, but are in favor of parts of it, though he stressed "I don't think you get anything out of the Senate without strong border security and we definitely don't get anything out of the House without strong border security."

Speaking after the bicameral meeting Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida continued to voice support for immigration reform legislation but distanced himself from the Senate proposal he helped craft.

Rubio wants to add changes that bolster security provisions and while he didn't tell reporters on Capitol Hill that he would vote against it, he did say, "If the changes don't happen, the bill can't pass."

"We'll keep working," he added. "We won't abandon the effort, we'll keep working to ensure that we have a bill that can pass."

Noting that he was asked to join the immigration effort in part to help bring Republicans on board, Rubio declared, "I can tell you that the bill as structured isn't going to pass the House, and it's going to struggle to pass in the Senate."

- CNN's Rachel Streitfeld and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: House • Immigration • Raul Labrador
soundoff (227 Responses)
  1. Pandamonius

    "I believe that health care is first and foremost a personal responsibility," he said in the statement."

    Remind me again, just what his health insurance policy is like and how is that a "personal responsibility"?

    June 6, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. Sniffit


    More like a reach-around. Keep diddlin' GOPers/Teatrolls. Tick tock tick tock...your demographic Armageddon approaches...

    June 6, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    It must be really difficult to be a conservative politician. It would be bad for my health. Too many principled stands and faux righteous indignations that must be made, if you ask me. The right wing applauds politicians who do this for some strange reason. Most people see it as juvenile-like cutting and running.

    When the kitchen gets too hot, when the going gets tough, when they figure out that they're in a talking point box, the conservative goes all righteously indignant on you. He makes a principled stand on his moral values, which is just a word salad blanket that they like to hide under.

    Other times, they make the principled stand just as an excuse to back out of something that they obviously never had any intention of doing in the first place. They think people never noticed their true intent, which is pretty amazing considering how much noise they made objecting to the whatever it was in the first place.

    This latter scenario is what is playing out now, as the cowards withdraw for immigration reform. Now don't forget folks who initiated this exodus from bipartisan immigration reform, Marco Rubio. Rubio, the supposed savior of immigration reform, opened the door for his colleagues to cut and run when he announced that he could not support it if some amendments that were never brought up in committee are not added to the bill.

    June 6, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. rs

    ...And now Republicans fold their tents and slink off into the desert, abandoning any effort to have outreach to the growning minority populations through some effort at Immigration Reform. They were never heard from again...

    June 6, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. grafixer

    Rubio is backing up on his bill too – HIS BILL. He's now realizing that if he doesn't do what the GOP wants, he won't be considered to run in 2016. So, again, the GOP dumps the Latino vote and continues to bash women's rights on every front. We are watching the implosion of the GOP. More and more, it looks like the Dems could actually take the House.

    June 6, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. rs

    Other times, they make the principled stand just as an excuse to back out of something that they obviously never had any intention of doing in the first place. They think people never noticed their true intent, which is pretty amazing considering how much noise they made objecting to the whatever it was in the first place.
    Exactly correct!

    This is why myself and others say that the GOP is now "post-policy" as they really stand for nothing at all. They certainly have no real moral or philosophical grounding anymore. About the only thing they do is react- always negatively to stimulus from anyone trying to make America a better place.

    As a party they are dead, they just haven't fallen over yet.

    June 6, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  7. James OKelly

    It is hard for me as an ex-Republican, to see the party that claims to be "more Christian", move farther and farther away

    from His teachings.

    June 6, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. ritmocojo

    The whole "bipartisan" Gang of Eight thing is a joke. The repukeicans never did or will want anything to do with immigration reform. They came up with this group only when the shelaqueing of the 2012s was fresh and tender on their hineys. Now that they're sort of getting over it, everything is returning to their normal "stupid".

    June 6, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  9. Bill in Florida

    Border security is estimated to cost $28 billion/year under the Senate plan. And that's not enough for the GOP House?

    June 6, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. DC Johnny

    @Rudy NYC

    Thanks for another of your long and expected diatribes against Conservatives without really addressing the heart of our side of this debate. It's impressive how you can go on and on about "principled stands" and "moral values", without actually detailing what those supposed stances are and what's wrong with them.

    For example, this monstrosity of a proposal does next to nothing to provide adequate security to prevent this from becoming another issue with tens of millions of illegal immigrants next decade. That is the endgame of this. Tens of millions of criminals turned into Democratic voting citizens today, and tens of millions more of the same by 2025, with no wall and no preventative method of avoiding the scenario.

    Rather than label those views as "talking points" or "moral stances" and discarding them as such, how about we hear what your side has to say about their validity?

    June 6, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Scott

    Their home country wont supply them healthcare, but we shoud. One of those little paragraphs in the document you could not read, until it was passed, but now let's legalize them.

    June 6, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. tet1953

    They always have to make the extreme case in order to make their point, don't they? GOP has concerns about health care costs for undocumented workers, and dems come back with "what if they have cancer?" And I am someone who considers himself somewhat left of center. Both sides do this constantly, and it prevents meaningful discussion of anything.

    June 6, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. Lowell_Thinks

    Hey Sniffit

    "More like a reach-around. Keep diddlin' GOPers/Teatrolls. Tick tock tick tock...your demographic Armageddon approaches..."

    Yes, it is a very dismal prospect, but if you think for a minute we are going away, you are mistaken. We are growing stronger every day and organizing and watching. The day of reckoning will come. Our forefathers tamed this wild land of savages, and we will do it again.

    June 6, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. DC Johnny

    I'm still waiting from one of you liberal commenting sheep to actually address the question posed from Conservatives, rather than use 2016 or 2012 or anti-Christian mockery as a debate tactic.

    How does the proposals in this monstrous bill stop the inflow of illegal immigrants, when so little attention is paid to guaranteed border security, and so much attention is paid to rewarding criminals with citizenship and the benefits that come along with it?

    I'm not holding my breath, because you are incapable of debating the actual facts of the issue, and are prone to meaningless and childish attacks.

    June 6, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. Tea Party Thomas

    Illegals should be deported. Why reward the law breakers?

    June 6, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Joe

    I'm sorry, health care benefits for illegals?

    There is a debate about this?

    June 6, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. stewart

    ahh the party of stupid continues down its path. DO SOMETHING! just dont block everything

    June 6, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "Remind me again, just what his health insurance policy is like and how is that a "personal responsibility"?"

    You have to understand that they don't mean "personal responsibility" when they say it. What they really mean is "duty to society not to be a deadbeat mooching drag on everyone else." The reason they don't want to cage it as a duty to society is because that would be an admission of the social contract's existence...and that's a two-way street that imposes duties and obligations and responsibilities upon EVERYONE. Admitting the existence of the social contract and that what they are really talking about is a duty to society would bring with it an admission of the existence of a duty to society owed by those who are well off, wealthy, the "haves," to contribute and assist the least among us and, most dangerous to their plutocratic agenda, a duty to refrain from abusing their greater wealth, power and influence to trample everyone else underfoot in service of their personal greed. That's anathema to them. They live in a magic ideological fantasy where "freedumb" means having no duties, obligations or responsibilities to anyone else and where trampling others underfoot is perfectly acceptable.

    June 6, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. Jack

    Here's the problem, if we don't address it. They will become charity cases and we will have to pay though increased hospital cost. If set up a system that benefits illegal immigration more attractive. Then more illegal immigration will forthcoming.

    It is no simple issue, get back to the table and find a way! That is we working folk have to do! That is what we elected you to do!

    I am an independent and public discord is not an option! Remember that Conservatives because you can not take my vote granted like once did!

    June 6, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    The legislation republicans need to pass in order to win any future presidential elections is going down the drain. Fine with me. Enjoy these few remaining months of power because it will be the last bit of power you have. Like the dinosaurs(in my Megatron voice...clears my throat), "Join them in extinction!!!"

    June 6, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. billmosby

    Labrador turns out not to be such a good lap dog for those wanting to throw citizens under the bus.

    June 6, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. Scott

    Fact is, Obama is a major lame duck. Expect 3 more years of it. He has lied, Pelosi has lied, Reid has lied. Obama is rulining by excutive decree. The next three years are going to be ugly, Led by a Harvard review editor, and community organizer "ok, that said, Im a rascist for calling the kettle" I await the liberal to labels me without knowing me.

    June 6, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Obstructionists AND quitters to boot!

    June 6, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. Sniffit

    " Our forefathers tamed this wild land of savages, and we will do it again."

    I'm sorry, but given the context of my comment pointing out that conservatives have a real, serious ideological and existential problem on their hands as a result of demography shifting towards minorities, it seems you just compared minorities to "savages." You guys just can't help yourselves, eh? Please proceed with your "outreach."

    June 6, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. JZ

    Remind me again why we need "reform"? 237 years we have been the envy of the world for tolerance and welcoming of all people regardless of persuasion with an immigration that allowed most of them.....if they followed the rules, process...the laws. Now, 11 million lawbreakers who have decided not to follow the law have created a world in which the the law is not as important as getting their way.

    Send them home, let them get in line, fill out the paperwork and come on back...legally and demonstrating that they are willing to live by and abide the laws of the country they seem so desperate to be a part of.

    June 6, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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