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. 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, their 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 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. sammy750

    This is just another Republican FAILURE. They cannot get members to agree on anything. The Republicans are one big fighting group between themselves. We see that in Committee meeting and the ranting against Obama. They will be highly defeated in 2014 and 2016. The Republicans radicals and extremists have taken over control and they are TERRORIST.

    June 6, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. sammy750

    Do you ever notice Fox News Cable never reports on the Republicans or Conservatives and what they stand for or the gaf they say on TV. All they report on is the Democrats and MSNBC. They are the worst Cable TV Network in this nation.

    June 6, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Thomas A. Hawk

    Ron wrote - "What is wrong for us to first secure the border before giving out citizenship to illegals?"

    Who, in a position of power in the context of this bill, is against securing the border? The article quotes Mr. Labrador as saying "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."

    Furher, Senator McCain got Senator Schumer to visit Arizona and view the state of the border there. McCain was already in favor of strong border security. After seeing the problem, Schumer went on record as being in favor of strong border security. (They held a joint news conference.) Schumer is one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress. He may actually be the most powerful if you "read between the lines."

    So, Ron, just who is it that, that has significant power related to this bill, that is against a strong border? Name names, please.

    June 6, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    [W]e went to the company and we said, 'Look, you can't have any illegals working on our property! I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, we can't have illegals!' – Willard Milton Romney

    "The bottom line is that we have a federal government that has failed.There is a clear problem here. And he [Romney] hit the nail on the head a while ago. He said there was a magnet of people that will hire illegals. And you are number one on that list, sir. And people need to understand that. You're one of the problems, Mitt." – Rick Perry
    2012 Republican debate. Remember that?

    June 6, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    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 . . .
    Good question. Uh. In the early 1980s, someone noticed that there was a large, untapped source of laborers willing to work for wages significantly less than what was currently being paid to most union employees. Not only would the laborers work for less money, they were willing to work with little or no benefits. It was a win-win for small businesses.

    June 6, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. pkrbkr3

    It seems to me that we all need to face the fact that we are ALL God's children.....not matter what the color of our skin or nation of origin....stop the hate, fear-mongering in this country! My brother employs 4 Mexican farm workers.....they will work 24/7 cleaning hog manure, whatever he needs done.....and just happy to be here, and by the way, my brother DOES pay social security for them as well as take out for taxes. They send their wages back home so their families can have a better life. How many "US citizens" would do the same?

    June 6, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  8. 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"?

    Yes. Please reference Chicago for further information."

    "Outreach" touchdown!!! Would you like to throw on some blackface and tapdance in your clownshoes while in the endzone? C' know you wanna....

    June 6, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  9. Mark

    I think I am going to start a movement to get 11-12 million legal citizens to stop paying their taxes so we can get tax amnesty. I'm tired of paying for social programs that encourage illegal immigration.

    *now I can sit here and wait for my IRS audit for making that post

    June 6, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. Keith

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

    What don't people understand about this? Individuals should be responsible, not only for their health, but obtaining insurance. Smoking, eating bad, not exercising, and drinking shouldn't cost tax payers money.

    June 6, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Trumiph, the dog

    Deporting cancer patients... I suppose that is one approach to curing cancer.

    June 6, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Booger

    They should allow things to happen.

    June 6, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. Sniffit

    "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."

    And the MSM has thoroughly labeled those facts "off limits" in order to perpetuate that problem because it serves the purpose of generating more controversy.

    June 6, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. yogi

    @ DC Johnny

    Your first post includes "Tens of millions of criminals turned into Democratic voting citizens today, and tens of millions more of the same by 2025", which you deleted in your second post, but your claim shows how absurd your thinking is. As far as the "better border security", there is no realistic solution for that, the Republicans would love to build a fence all the way across the United States at south border and who would build that? Mexicans? Yeah right.

    The fundamental problem with Republicans is that the words compassion and caring are not included in their philosophy, so they never can sign off to a comprehensive immigration reform, and therefore the further destruction of the party from within will continue. The latin community will only listen to the Republicans if they show that they really care about them, and that sincerity is not there so adios GOP, RIP.

    June 6, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. Thomas A. Hawk

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

    Rep. Labrador said the issue is over health benefits. For your statement to be true, it means you'd have to take the position the Rep. Labrador is lying about why he left the "Gang of 8."

    Are you seriously taking the position that a well respected Conservative from one of the safest GOP states in the nation is lying about his reason? Seriously?

    If you didn't mean to call Mr. Labrador a liar, then please correct your post.

    June 6, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. Rudy NYC


    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.
    Uh, it's been the right wing that's been making the loudest complaints about the cost of health care. We all pay for the services of those without insurance through higher charges at the health provider's facilities, which raises the rates we all pay to health insurers.

    But, there's one small thing that you've so obviously overlooked. You complain about people not having insurance in emergency rooms, but the right wing's solution is to do nothing, and maintain the status quo with people showing up in emergency rooms with no health insurance of any kind.

    June 6, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Richard Long

    Typical liberal: Criminal Immigrants deserve to live better than US citizens. They need free healthcare, education, subsidized housing, and food stamps. Who cares where the money comes from to pay for it. Screw all those US citizens who are currently unemployed.

    June 6, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. TONY

    @ it must be said
    In the first place it was a bunch of racist savages throwaways from England that took this country away from the the Indians.

    June 6, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. DAN

    Conservative or liberal they are all (85%) stealing taxpayers money and giving back nothing but more problems for the AMERICAN (USA) families. They divide us, make us poorer and continually make life harder for the working class.

    June 6, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Rudy NYC


    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
    Good question. Ask Rubio why he objects to the idea. Read the article for a change, and do try to keep up.

    June 6, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    "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."
    Yeah... but there's no way that 12 million would all be allowed in at once. Face the facts – this is amnesty with a 12-year fuse attached to it.

    June 6, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. RealityCheck

    Oh my God stop the presses, a Republican is walking out on negotiations over domestic policy.

    June 6, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. wonderful1

    If the Democrats can't come up with something better then it's a good thing this is sinking. It defies logic and reason, and stinks as a big give-away in response to Obama's campaign promises and new voters.

    June 6, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. are122

    Let Mexico foot the bill for their health insurance.

    June 6, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  25. mathmattx

    I am going to renounce my citizenship and change my name to Rodriquez. When in college I worked three jobs and took out student loans. I still send a 200 check to us dept of education every Mexican roommate got vouchers and grants. I just last month "paid off" our local hospital for labor and delivery costs on my seven year old son. 80 percent of births on our county are to hispanics on some state program (meaning they dont pay anything) Currently (six injections of ABVD chemo down six to go) fighting hodgkins disease and it consumes every spare nickel we have. Now congress is sending a very clear message that being a hard Working contributor and trying to be a productive, law abiding, responsible citizen is just not worth it.

    June 6, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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