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. Prisoner-of-Christ

    Every study apart from Heritage Foundation reveals comprehensive immigration reform will benefit our country......can somebody, please, explain to me why the Republicans are not aboard?

    June 6, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. sambell1

    so kill the bill is the ultimate gop response to the reality of obamacare! so make them pay fines.taxes and be lawful and employed, but let them die in the street if they can't afford gold plated insurance for their healthcare, solely because they want to use obamacare as an issue in the next election. and the gop wonders why hispanics won't vote for them!

    June 6, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Thomas A. Hawk

    Ordinary American Citizen said "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."

    Are you willing to try to understand? The real reason is to maintain a competitive advantage over other nations in the area of agribusiness. Reagan knew this. Bush (Sr.) knew this. Clinton knew this. Reagan started NAFTA. Bush (rather cleverly) negotiated it. Clinton signed it.

    Even though you don't like it, economically it's a "home run" that was negotiated by President Bush.

    I have two references. The less important one is the Wikipedia article on NAFTA. I'm not going to try to post the URL because CNN historically doesn't like that. The more important reference is from pages 461-2 of the college textbook - Quinn, M. (2011). Ethics for the information age. Boston: Addison-Wesley.

    It's not ridiculous. Reagan and Bush Sr. knew what they were doing. It's just that you don't understand it. Hopefully that's "you don't understand it yet." I've told you where you can do some reading. Quinn's book is pretty good so it might be worth actually buying it instead of trying to find it in a library. In any event, you can learn if you want to learn. Do you want to learn?

    June 6, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. just sayin

    Every study apart from Heritage Foundation reveals comprehensive immigration reform will benefit our country

    because every study that says this was done by a liberal progressive bunch of idiots with a political agenda to push.
    i'm sure they are the same idiots that said obamacare would costs $900 billion and now the cost has doubled or tripled and is still climbing.

    June 6, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. JJ236

    Providing healthcare for the invaders has been going on forever...well at least since the government stopped enforcing existing immigration laws. Visit an emergency room in the southwest USA and two things will be observed...english is not spoken and the waiting rooms are filled with invaders as thats where they learned to get free medical care.

    June 6, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Nor

    Another "Christian" Republican who shows his Jesus inspired love by telling the poor if you get sick or hurt go away and die.

    June 6, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. Ed

    We don't need immigration reform. We need employment verification reform. Each U.S. citizen should be issued a new tamper proof (technology is availabe and cheap) Social Security Card or Citizen card. An employer must have that card and swipe it into a Federal data/verification base for verification before anyone can be hired. If an employer hires anyone without the card they are fined $50,000 for each occurence. Guest worker permits, worker visas, green card workers, etc. would have their own seperate type tamper proof ID card and verification database that includes the date the guest work permit, working visa, etc. expires which means the date they can no longer be employed. Employers also fined $50,000 for each violation. All the illegals would go back to their home nations if there is no work and they can then apply for a limited term guest worker permit or worker visa if they want to work in the U.S. They got here on their own illegally and they can leave on their own – no deportation necessary. Only emergency medicial care and no government benefits for any undocumented workers and their families. After 2 years from implementation of the employment verification reform, all current immigration laws (including deportation) are strictly enforce and any "sanctuary" cities or states lose all Federal funding.

    June 6, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. givemeabreakpleez

    latinos would get a better reception from the American public re immigration if they would (1) put America first (not mexico or their other country's of origin) by learning English and not waving the Mexican flag at rallies to support immigration (2) put education (3) stop having so many kids you can't afford to properly educate, feed and provide health care and start doing things to develop America as the first rate country it is.

    June 6, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Floyd from Illinois

    The House Republicans are such a mess that the walkout of ONE of their number threatens to sabotage progress on an issue that even Republicans recognize as one of the most important facing this Congress.

    Psssst, Republicans – when these talks fail because once again your members sabotaged it, who do you think the American people are going to blame?

    June 6, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. kols

    There is probably even more poison in this immigration bill than we are allowed to know about. I'd like to see ALL the details so we know what were up against. I think Congress is trying to pull a fast one and get this bill through before we know what has happened. It's bad enough they want to increase H1B visas but also are creating a new visa so the illegals can take even more of our jobs. The new W visa isn't just for farm workers, it includes construction workers and service industry workers and Lord knows who else. They want to flood this country with cheap labor to drive our wages down and have more American unemployed so we can be generous to the criminal illegals who invaded our country.

    June 6, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. Vence

    Psssssst!! !The future of GOP depends on this. They still don't know!

    June 6, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. yogi

    @ Scott

    Your post is one label after another, and not very original ones, yet you would like to preclude in that same post any label that comes your way: "I await the liberal to labels me without knowing me". How brave, how typical republican.

    June 6, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. just askin

    ok democrats and liberals.... if making all these illegals us citzens is a great benefit to our economy, then wouldn't allowing the entire population of mexico to come here be an even bigger economic boom??? i mean, think of all the money they will spend right? do you now understand how totally ridiculous your contention is that these people are a net gain for this country? if they were all college grauduates and we had a surplus of jobs waiting for them to fill, then i would say i agree with you. but that is definitely not the case.

    and btw the way, they send billions and billions back to mexico nd do not spend it here. so much for that economic positive!

    June 6, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. SkepticalOne

    Healthcare is never going to be a personal responsibility so long as hospital emergency rooms have to accept anyone who walks in the door. It is the most expensive place to treat the uninsured and the only place they have to go. We all end up paying that cost because the hospitals shift it to those who can pay. The conservatives can't seem to get this reality through their thick skulls.

    June 6, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Peoples State of Illinois

    So many poor blind people. If the consequences to this country were not so tragic, it would be funny. Of course the republicans wanted to make Obama a one term president. They were listening to what he said during the primaries and the election, and they knew the damage he would do to this country. This country can survive an obama presidency, but I fear the obamavoter will be this country's undoing.

    June 6, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. kols

    Two big problems with this bill are they want to give 5 years to secure our borders and 5 years before employers are required to use E-verify. I think there has been more than enough time to do those things already without adding on 5 more years, which encourages even more people to cross our borders illegally and take our jobs after they do so.
    I also wonder just how they plan to know how long the invaders have been here avoiding paying taxes to determine how much they owe in back taxes. And that measley $500 fine is like an insect bite. Only $500 as payment for coming here uninvited.

    June 6, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. MM

    JZ says...

    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.


    Yes, This is true but this doesn't mean that something is broken when we have 11 million illegals in this country.The illegals are also not leaving the country no matter how much we want them to follow the law and I doubt we are ever going to make them leave.

    The problem is cheap illegal labor competing with legal labor. I say do away with the illegal status, give them a non-citizen working card and let everyone compete on a level playing field; also encourage them to go after employers that aren't paying them minimum wage.

    June 6, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. bdby

    It begs the question: "How is all this going to affect true American's social security benefits?" Do these illegals get another "FREE RIDE" once they get to retirement? All those people worked under the table for years not paying into the system legitimately. I suspect the gang of eight didn't even look at this major issue. Right now as it stands until I hear what it covers and not cover I would not support any part of this grandiose plan.

    June 6, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. General George S. Patton

    Listen to me you bunch of pansies, make me Supreme Commander of the USA for ONE YEAR and I guarantee the American people I can and will:

    1. Secure the borders of this country.
    2. Round up and deport every illegal alien in this country that doesn't remove himself with 6 months.
    3. implement an immigration system that works and doesn't allow millions of illegals to invade our country.

    I kicked the Nazis out of Europe damn it, this is nothing compared to that! We just need the LEADERSHIP and the RESOLVE to DO IT!!

    I look forward to leading you all in this great batte.

    That's all. Dismissed.

    June 6, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Thomas A. Hawk

    Ed, the Real ID Act of 2005 is intended to provide for such a tamper-proof ID. This law came out of the GOP controlled Congress at a time when a Republican sat in the White House. The law's sponsor was James Sensenbrenner, a Republican.

    Some states have objected. One early objection came from then Governor Janet Napolitano (Democrat) of Arizona. For whatever reason, the current governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, a Republican is also against the law.

    This is one issue where taking position by party simply won't work. I mean, Napolitano and Brewer agree with each other on something so controversial!?!

    June 6, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. geodog

    There shouldn't be an issue. An undocumented worker is an illegal worker and should be deported. We can't afford to provide for US Citizens yet we want to spend millions to help illegals become citizens????

    June 6, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. bob the builder

    I dont see why we have to offer illegals who invaded our country any path to citizenship at all.

    Just make them permanent resident aliens, with no rights to vote. They break any laws or fail to pay taxes they get deported.

    What is so hard to figure out?

    June 6, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Prisoner-of-Christ

    Each time I look at the back of our money I see....."IN GOD WE TRUST".....Democrats, Republicans & Independents here is the answer:

    ................THE HOLY BIBLE


    2nd TIMOTHY 2:15.....Study to shew thyself approved unto GOD, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)

    June 6, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. gb0432

    Congress continues to demonstrate they simply have no ability to get anything meaningful done...this is not news..this is status quo

    June 6, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Thomas A. Hawk

    kols said " I think there has been more than enough time to do those things already without adding on 5 more years."

    Regardless of what you think, not giving businesses time to adapt after the bill passes is going to cause court battles which likely will be lost by the government and make the time to enforcement even longer than 5 years.

    Instead of complaining about battles you can't win, I suggest you focus your efforts on getting a bill passed ASAP so that the clock can start. Otherwise, it's going to be longer than 5 years which is worse than waiting 5 years.

    In summary - please don't try to speed up the clock when such an effort is only going to slow things down.

    I want this problem solved as soon as possible. Don't you?

    June 6, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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