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. James PDX

    Ray E. (Georgia) wrote:

    You want benifits. Pay for them! If this bill finally becomes law it is the poor taxpayer that will foot the bill.

    Ray, it's already the taxpayer who foots the bill. A hospital cannot turn away someone who shows up needing urgent treatment. So currently we foot the bill for expensive emergency room visits. Alternatively, we can offer healthcare packages so these people can have access to preventative care and less expensive treatment options. I'm not saying I back this bill, I'm simply pointing out the fallaciousness of your argument.

    June 6, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. Name/ggggg

    There should not be any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. They are already criminals and show no concern for that fact everyday they stay in this country undocumented which is illegal. As for health care for them they should go home & be a burden to their own government or else we should be refunded the full undiscounted price for their care by the government of their citizenship country I bet their own country would pressure them to come home then

    June 6, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. BostonBob

    33 million more work permits in the next 10 years, massive increases in legal immigration, no effective interior enforcement measure – gutting of E-Verify.

    This is a such a bad bill only the fools in DC would try to put lipstick on it and claim it is good for America.

    June 6, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "Do you allow anyone and everyone to wander into your home at all times of the day and night and do what they want?"

    Yawn. Broken analogy is broken. It's just as absurd as the "oooh, blah blah your household budget herpa derp" nonsense when talking about the federal government's budget.

    June 6, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. surf for sun

    Tea Party Thomas: Illegals should be deported. Why reward the law breakers?

    In Texas the conservatives reward the law breakers because they make up about 50% of the low income wage earners as cheap, undocumented slave labor. Your Tea Party patriots make a nice profit by hiring low wage people who live in fear of arrest for the sake of making a better life for themselves. Why provide health care for them when you can just replace them.

    Republican bipartisan effort is an oxymoron.

    June 6, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. BostonBob

    33 million more work permits in the next 10 years, massive increases in legal immigration, no effective interior enforcement measure – gutting of E-Verify.

    This is a such a bad bill only the folks in DC would try to put lipstick on it and claim it is good for America.

    June 6, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. just sayin

    i'm sure the original country of origin for all these illegals will gladly pay for their medical treatment if they need it, right? i mean all countries give everybody, including non-citizens, free medical care right?

    if we start giving illegals free medical care then we will not have an illegal immigration problem. we'll have a bankruptcy problem along with a tsunami of illegals storming every port and border in order to get their free medical care.

    so the real question is can this country afford, no let me rephrase that, can you afford to take more from your paycheck in order to provide free healthcare to the entire world?

    June 6, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. ugh

    Let me see – did the Democrats insist on blanket amnesty? – Probably...

    June 6, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |

    It's ironic to me that the poor Citizens will suffer even more when these illegals come out of the shadows and start taking more and more jobs. It'll hurt poor Americans... badly.

    June 6, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Donna

    Why not just require that all people that come here MUST BUY healthcare insurance? I mean Obamacare has required all US citizens to do it. Why can't we require it of all that want to come here? As the Democrats would say, all of these free riders on the healthcare system would be costing us all money.

    June 6, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  11. Ordinary Average American

    I'll never understand why America's "leaders" have allowed illegals to invade this country for YEARS or why they decided that those criminals should be entitled to anything, much less health care, especially in light of the fact that AMERICAN CITIZENS don't enjoy the same privileges! It's ridiculous . . . we've paid taxes our entire lives that have funded schools, social security, medicare and all of these systems have been destroyed by giving their benefits to people who aren't even supposed to be here!

    June 6, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. BCSaugerties

    Would asking every potential citizen to give a DNA sample so as to attest to non involvement in any past unsolved crime be too much to ask from illegals wanting legality? If our country is so willing to make a commitment on a new citizen, shouldn't tht new citizen , neighbor, co-worker be willing to show a commitment as well. The current Amnesty Bill 704 is to giving to illegals and asks nothing in return. The DNA sample donation would in my mind show the good intentions of the applicant.

    June 6, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    Let me guess ... he doesn't play well with others? Typical TeaPer ideology: throw a hissy fit and stomp away. When will America learn that TeaPers are getting to be a real drag in America? When will CNN learn that covering their childish temper tantrums is getting to be a really big drag as well?

    June 6, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. it must be said

    "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"?

    Yes. Please reference Chicago for further information.

    June 6, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. tonyl

    GOP was a racist party. GOP is a racist party and GOP will remain a racist party in the future. It is their job to represent the racist views that exist in these United states. Even though they are in the decline and soon will be no longer viable. As long as they have the hate radio mouth pieces like Limbaugh and Hannity with one track mind they are unable change along with the country.

    June 6, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. peeler

    Wow – key players (Republicans, as usual), bailing on immigration reform. Now who could have predicted that?

    June 6, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |

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

    What a joke–You have no chance against big business health care and can't fight the high prices of care and medicine. Wake up people–Health care should be provided for all and business should be taken out of it.

    NO health care for all congress-Its a personal responsibility and you should take care of it on your OWN!

    June 6, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. Big_D

    Maybe they should start hiring Americans to do these jobs? Nah that would cost the people that have been breaking the law for decades too much.

    June 6, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. CP in Tampa, FL

    Healthcare should be everyone's right, even undocumented minorities. If you saw someone injured on the side of the road would you offer immediate assistance or would you ask for their immigration papers? We need to get rid of insurance companies and create a single payer system with cost controls and every hospital should be non-profit. Immigration reform needs to happen. If the Republican's in the house block the legislation, they need to be voted out of office next year.

    June 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. Ordinary Average American

    America's "leaders" have ignored the illegal immigration problems for years and have allowed these people to completely destroy every social service Americans have worked hard to provide for CITIZENS. Who's brilliant idea was it to allow these people free education, free healthcare, housing assistance . . . all things that American citizens have to contribute to before they are "entitled."

    June 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Chuk

    This is all on the GOP – they hold the cards here. This shows how difficult it is to do anything in Washington when it involves people would only do things their way or no way. And, in the process, push their fellow members like Rubio further to the right (remember the Presidential elections when Rumney had to lurch too far to the right to win the nomination and had to lurch back to his true self which made him do the etcha-sketch?) Here we go again folks.
    Hey Rubio, if you think you want to run for President, this is just child's play.

    June 6, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. Tommy G

    Our country is quickly going bankrupt. We owe $17 TRILLION and add a TRILLION to it every year.

    We have the fewest people working in 30 years, as a percentage of the working population. All of those people not working is costing the government money AND they are not providing taxes to help run the country.

    Now the Democrats want to allow MILLIONS more to the labor pool and MILLIONS more to the government paid healthcare rolls??? Are they totally INSANE?!! People, it has becom eclear that the Democrats are a clear and present danger to the future of this country.

    June 6, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. mrzntejas

    So let's see here, the big companies hire these illegals so they can make more profit, they take taxes out of their paycheck, social security, etc... and they cannot partake of health care????
    Illegal immigrants are paying taxes to Uncle Sam, experts agree. Just how much they pay is hard to determine because the federal government doesn't fully tally it. But the latest figures available indicate it will amount to billions of dollars in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes this year. One rough estimate puts the amount of Social Security taxes alone at around $9 billion per year.

    Paycheck withholding collects much of the federal tax from illegal workers, just as it does for legal workers.
    "It's a mistake to think that no illegal immigrants pay taxes. They definitely do!
    The Social Security Administration estimates that about three-quarters of illegal workers pay taxes that contribute to the overall solvency of Social Security and Medicare.The agency estimates that for 2005, the last year for which figures are available, about $9 billion in taxes was paid on about $75 billion in wages from people who filed W2 forms with incorrect or mismatched data, which would include illegal immigrants who drew paychecks under fake names and Social Security numbers.The impact on Social Security is significant, though, because most of that money is never claimed by the people who pay it but instead helps cover retirement checks to legal workers.

    June 6, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  24. Donkey Party

    Under the Obama Administration, illegal immigration is at record lows, and deportations are at record highs. Neither of these FACTS permeate into the paranoid, delusional, ignorant, racist bubble that right-wingers dwell in. There really is no point in trying to rationalize with them, they're right-wing programming doesn't allow for fact, compromise, or the appreciation of intelligence and literacy. Right-wingers are a lost cause, they're weeds that are choking society. Thankfully, mosts weeds have a relatively short lifespan.

    June 6, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. Rudy NYC


    What is wrong for us to first secure the border before giving out citizenship to illegals?
    Nothing. There's absolutely nothing wrong with first closing the barn door. It would be nice if we actually had a barn door to close. So.

    Please explain exactly how do we do that. How long will it take, and at what cost? What is the metric that is to be used to measure "secure" on the border? BTW, such a metric is part of the bill, and it's the last thing conservatives want clearly defined.

    June 6, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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