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. smith

    @Hawk-talk is cheap, lets see a wall or fence being built..that`s the point...we can`t afford to take care of south america

    June 6, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. Nostradamus

    Let's wait the next elections. When racist Repugs realize their Party countnue in free fall down, losing more and more States due to their antiLatino position, then and only then they will run to approve the Immigration Reform.

    June 6, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. John

    So the Republicans get a couple of their Latino guys to hep put together an immigration bill to showcase that they don't really have a distaste for the hispanic population. The problem is that they can't even get enough support from their own party to get the thing passed. Did you really ever think they would? Republican is a party that likes to look down on every group that is not white, straight, religious and pro-gun.

    June 6, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. Pete

    And republicans why keep harping on a fence when its fact more illegals come on shore from most coastal states than Texas,New Mexico just look up the changing demographics in states as Florida,California...Most are S.American and most have no problem getting here ..It's just the haitians,cubans that come by water to claim refuge in coastal states and its more than what cross the border from Texas everyday I bet..It's easy they fly in with tourist visas and disappear into the crowds of more like them never being found unless they're sick or arrests brings up their illegal status ..In Florida and other states fraudulent drivers licences,birth certificates and SocialSecurity cards are made electronicly so its hard to distinguish what's fraudulent and what's legit...Quit making mountains out of molehills because most of you screaming foul with immigration had your past forefathers,mothers come here illegally as well and if you research during the last fifty years more illegals came across our borders to the land of opportunity than through Ellis Island in NY legally checking in as refugees and how many know where that is and why its there..It's a national treasure and should be treated as such for many "OLD IMMIGRENTS"who came through there as well!Remember not everyone landed at Plymouth Rock as Pilgrims in 1492...

    June 6, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. rs

    " Manned guard towers every 1/2 mile with "shoot-to-kill" orders"
    Lets see:
    1. 1,200 mile bosder so thats 2,400 guard towers. Estimate $100,000 per tower =$240,000,000
    2. Staff, 3 per tower @$ 50,000 salarie and benefits = $360,000,000
    3. Roads, 1,200 miles times $200,000 per mile (unpaved)= $240,000,000
    4. Administration, district offices (lets say4 districts, plus staff)= 4 buildings @ $1 million ea, Staff of 10 @ $250,000 ea.= $14,000,000.
    So, without vehicles, weapons, staff for illness , vacation, maintenance, we're lookin' at well over $850 billion outlay, and about $600 billion a year in staffing.

    Yup, thats a "small-government" Republican sollution for you!

    June 6, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. Edward Simpson

    Anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-science, anti-government, one hand waving a bible and the other waving a gun. Please, please keep it up Republicans. Every time one of your spokesmen flaps their jaw another liberal gets his or her wings.

    June 6, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Thomas A. Hawk

    Don't Believe Polls - OK but how do you feel about it?

    Discussing the topic here can help people form an opinion.

    June 6, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Thomas A. Hawk

    smith – fair enough.

    However, I don't think a wall, by itself, would be even close to sufficient. Smugglers already know about tunnels and have made them. Some areas are rather rough and building a wall there would be difficult, at best. The terrain doesn't look like Kansas from end to end. (Not flat).

    I think we'd also need Drones. That could solve the rough terrain problem. Won't solve the tunnel problem but could help.

    Another concern is the drug traffic. Perhaps that's the major concern. These criminals think nothing of killing U.S. patrols if they think they can get away with it.

    My point is the problem is complex. A wall isn't enough.

    June 6, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. Ralter

    Seems both parties have it wrong. (Big surprise, I know.) It won't matter how secure you make a border, it simply will force the smuggling operations to be bigger and badder, raising them up to the level to compete directly against the drug cartels. If you want to stop illegal immigration, you need to remove the pros for doing it. First off is our horrific legal immigration system, where you literally have to win a lottery or get bought and paid for by a company. Yeah, ditch that system entirely. And second, giving free incentives like health care to those that don't register to pay taxes? Not a good idea either. The immigrants are going to come here one way or another, so the only way to solve this is to make it better to be a legal immigrant than an illegal one. Get them paying taxes, crack down on companies that pay under the table, get rid of the lottery, deport those that break the law, etc.

    June 6, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. JF Spurlock

    The Senators from Texas and the Congressman who represent North Fort Worth had all three better understand this. Next electio n I will vote to remove from office any elected official who votes for a bill that allows illegal aliens to stay in this country and/or gives them a chance at citizenship.

    They are criminals and we don;t want they here.

    If you want to stay in office, vote against bills that aid illegal immigrants

    June 6, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Steve S

    When the going gets tough.....the tough get going.
    Or in this case, another tongue-flapping GOP Conservative, goes out the door....when he doesn't get his way.

    June 6, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Galactus93

    NO AMNESTY and NO LEGALIZATION for illegal aliens. No Pathway for US Citizenship. We need our Federal Government to enforce our immigration laws. Deport all illegal aliens and secure the border.

    June 6, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Frankly

    E-Verify along with enforcing of current laws – end of story

    June 6, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. smith

    @Hawk-good point

    June 6, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. roger

    Pass a bill that protects America and Americans from footing the bill for everything and I'll call you anything you want.

    June 6, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. Bob

    How can the same people that advocate for "living wages" advocate for all this low skilled illegals to enter the country? It does not make sense. If the evil Tea Party and GOP need the low skill wage illegals...aren't they still going to hire them? Why would an illegal seek status if the status will cost them more in the end? I see many illegals in my area working on dairy farms and they prefer to be off the grid. And for those that talk about changing demographics from countries like Honduras, guess what? They travel here via Mexico.

    June 6, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. Bob

    Why not make all illegals get a US Citizen to sponsor them? By reading these boards, there should be plenty.

    June 6, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. us_1776

    A Republican leaves a bipartisan effort.

    I'm shocked I tell you. Shocked !!!


    June 6, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. sly

    Republicans have not passed a single bill in the past 6 years.

    NOTHING will ever be passed by the Republicans, so forget any immigration reform.

    Guess we'll just continue the way we have for the past 30 years – that'll make all of you real happy with Republicans, since y'all just love having 15 million illegal immigrants in America – and no reform means that number will increase 1 million each year.

    That's what y'all want?

    June 6, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  20. Jeb

    Republicans are no longer fit to govern.

    The only thing they can pass anymore are anti-abortion bills.

    June 6, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. Jerry Okamura

    Will the problem of illegal immigration be solved, if this bill becomes law? If the problem of illegal immigration will not be solved with this bill, what it the purpose of this bill? What is the goal?

    June 6, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. DH

    The Repubs are in real trouble and not passing this bill will push them over the cliff in the hole with Romney.

    June 6, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. tam

    Why do we need 300,000 more educated foreigners to take out jobs? I am NOT in favor of this bill, even as a DEM. And REPs arent really racists on this issue, not this one anyways, other ones yes.

    June 6, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  24. tam

    This is all about pleasing the mega rich CEOS like Apple and Microsoft, and Ag companies

    June 6, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  25. Just

    The gang of 8 wants to "give" the criminal illegal invaders a lot of benefits including amnesty. What is in it for the actual citizens ?

    June 6, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
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