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. Sniffit

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

    So demographics shifting towards minority-majority is turning the country into a "land of savages" that must be "tamed"? Oh, do tell. Please proceed with your "outreach."

    June 6, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    DC Johnny wrote:

    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.
    I did detail what they are. They are a word salad blanket that conservative like to hide under. If you would like a more detailed answer than that, then you should ask people DOING the act and not the person OBSERVING

    June 6, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Ron

    What is wrong for us to first secure the border before giving out citizenship to illegals? Do you want to have 30 million more people coming in to the country illegally in 10 more years? If the border is not secure first that is what will happen. I agree with giving them citizenship but only after the border is secure so that we can prevent illegal entry into the country.

    June 6, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. James PDX

    Ok, I think it's finally time to split. Let's give 1/2 the country to the cons and the other half to the libs. 25 years from now, whichever ideology is more prosperious gets total control of both halves and the other camp disappears into the sunset and shuts their big mouths forever.

    June 6, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. Unavailable1

    I agree with the Congressmen on this subject. I fully support immigration reform but it has to be thought out properly prior to being put into place, versus another don't ask, don't tell and then change it in ten years. The silly, childish names that so many spew when expressing their lopsided opinions though is real funny.

    June 6, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. Sniffit

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

    Bwahaha. You just compared the country shifting towards minority-majority to it becoming a "land of savages" that needs to be "tamed." Go go gadget "outreach"!

    June 6, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. James PDX

    How about this; each party gets complete control for 8 years. Nobody from the other party can even run for any federal office when it's not their 8 year term. They can rochambeau for who goes first. 8 year term limits for everybody. This way everybody has a chance to be happy at least 1/2 of the time and, when it's not their party's turn, they can count on the end of the opposite party's term as that proverbial bright spot.

    June 6, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Thunder King

    Why should an illegal alien hasve access to Obamacare or any other healthcare in this country, espoecially when they don'tt belong here? Everyone claims our immigration system is broken when the only problem is our boder is not secure and we don't enforce the laws already in place.

    June 6, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. David Carter

    As a republican with libertarian tendencies I still don't understand why this country can not figure health care out. If you want to look at other countries for best practices you can cover EVERY person in the country for HALF of what we currently spend on health care. IF you want shorter lines for tests and a better system spend a little more maybe you could get maybe 3% or 4% of the entire GDP back cover everyone and still spend more than any other country on the planet, we are literally the only place on the planet with a crazy system, where you can be doing great one day a bankrupt a few months later because of an accident or getting cancer...and no a person living paycheck to paycheck on $12 an hour can't afford insurance especially if they have a family

    June 6, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    DC Johnny wrote:

    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?
    Where is and what is the conservative solution for "better border security"? How much will it cost? There's been a lot of talk in the right wing about what needs to be done, but without stating WHAT actually needs to be done.

    You do realize that the bill creates a difficult path to citizenship, one that takes at least a dozen years to complete. They could become a citizen faster by returning home and going through the usual immigration channels.

    June 6, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Bob

    I don't see what the deal is, why would we give illegals healthcare? They are not citizens of this country.

    June 6, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. TomGI

    Should we scale back healthcare for American senior citizens so we can afford health care for undocumented workers? Or should we offer undocumented workers a health care package AND THEN scale back healthcare for American senior citizens so we can afford to cover the undocumented workers?

    June 6, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. KA

    "Democrats were concerned an undocumented worker who was seriously injured or diagnosed with cancer and couldn't pay for insurance would be deported."

    Yeah, so? They shouldn't be here in the first place and should be deported.

    To those who think all the illegal aliens in the country should be given a free pass, answer this simple question: Do you allow anyone and everyone to wander into your home at all times of the day and night and do what they want? If you answered no, then why should the U.S. be any different when it comes to who is and is not allowed to enter the country?

    June 6, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. Ray E. (Georgia)

    You want benifits. Pay for them! If this bill finally becomes law it is the poor taxpayer that will foot the bill. You like Obama Care? It is you that will foot the bill. The Liberal's are selling you a Bill of Goods. In the long run every thing that the Un Documented is supposed to pay for will dissappear into the sunset and you will be left to pay for it. Think I'm kidding? All those Pie in the Sky Great Programs are now nearing a 17 Trillion Dollar Federal debt.

    June 6, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  15. James PDX

    @ DC Johnny – this "monstrosity of a proposal" is a bi-partisan work in progress. If your half can't get it done, including one bailing completely, don't forget to take 1/2 of the responsibility. Of course this bill should strongly address border security. But it's not really in either side's best interest to get anything done. Both parties stand to gain a lot more by keeping us as divided as we are. And your ultra-partisan blathering is proof they are succeeding with the weak-willed sheep among us.

    June 6, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  16. Spgfld Tom

    Simple plan: Seal the borders (using former IRS bigshots), all illegals currently in the country have 90 days to register (at the Post Ofice...they could use the business), all holders of Student Visas have to be in compliance or leave (Eric Holder could spearhead that effort....well, in his spare time) and the illegals captured/detained could be put to work at DHS warehouses storing their recently acquired 1.4 billion (with a b) rounds of ammo. The Dems need to get "Immigration Reform" passed, the countdown to the presidential election is ticking and Biden needs every vote he can get.

    June 6, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |

    Our immigration laws are not "broken" – just not enforced. Here's a concept, lets enforce them and then there is not debate. This "gang of eight" is just another waste of taxpayer money. Next thing you know, middle class "legal" citizens are going to flip the medical expense for all illegals, oh wait, we already do that. I have absolutely no faith or trust in our government anymore, let alone any respect for our laws, why should I, they don't.

    June 6, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. chill

    Bottom line, Rubio appears to have no influence within the Republican Congressional ranks. Seems like they are okay with him as an example of their outreach to Hispanics, but don't otherwise take him seriously. The GOP is falling back to the same old tired startegy of appealing to the anti-immigration crowd with who can build the biggest fence and buy the most drones. They're just like a black hole that gets smaller and smaller before it explodes.

    June 6, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. Never

    Americans have no obligations in these matters, other than assuring the enforcement of our laws is carried out by those entrusted with the duty. No 'reform', no amnesty, no dream act.

    June 6, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  20. Graham Pye

    Eight month "retirement" visas for retired Canadians are part of this bill. Please don't let that die, it's cold up here!

    June 6, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. lottie

    this immigrant is a pain in Idaho's butt. An immigration lawyer himself he has made a fortune on what he now opposes. The repo party will go down in history as the party of no. This clown likes to get his face on TV and Fox news.

    June 6, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. semper fi

    Hey everyone look...we are doing something that is useless. They all stand at the edge of the ocean....Pi$$ in it and proclaim......We changed the level of the sea!

    June 6, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. tjp44

    here's the solution:
    Secure the Borders
    Amnesty those to become citizens and pay fines for missed back taxes and being illegals
    Send the violent offenders back to their country of origin
    Make sure this does not occur again

    June 6, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. ????

    If I don't get free healthcare, sure as hell not paying for a non-citizen to get it. What is so hard to figure out..part of the "pathway to being a citizen" should be the obligation to buy health insurance. Period. End of discussion. No insurance, no citizenship. That's the offer, take it, or leave the country.

    June 6, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. Future

    All of these these commenters bashing the Republicans are the first to cry when the states raise taxes on everything imaginable to pay the unfunded additional cost of covering health insurance cost of illegal immigrants. Ever go to a hospital emergency room ? They are crammed with illegals with no insurance. Guess who pays or this And complains because hospitals charge so much.

    June 6, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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