House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says a reform of the immigration laws will be a priority in 2014.
He told USA Today that immigration is next on the agenda once the Senate passes a bipartisan budget deal for the next two years.
The report says a budget deal for the next two years would clear the legislative calendar and eliminate the threat of a government shutdown in January.
The paper says that even Bob Dane, whose Federation for American Immigration Reform strongly opposes a bill, admits ‘the ground is very fertile for an immigration bill at this point in time.’
Vice President Joe Biden said last week: “It’s going to happen.”
But the report adds that whether that momentum leads to a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws could have more to do with the 2014 elections than current conditions.
Republicans in the House oppose a deal similar to that passed by the Senate allowing the nation’s 12 million undocumented immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Their stance remains the biggest roadblock to legislation. Dane has said that the already-fractured GOP must stand firm in opposition if it wants to have any success come election day.
He said: “Opposing amnesty next year is probably the last hope for the GOP to save itself from losing a core group of its voters.”
USA Today adds that despite their public support for immigration revisions, Republican House leaders accomplished little on the issue this year.
The Senate did pass a comprehensive rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws in June. This included $46 billion in border security and an overhaul of the legal immigration system to bring in more high-tech and low-skilled workers.
House committees have approved five bills focusing on immigration enforcement and expanding the legal immigration system to bring in more foreign workers.
While the last of those bills was approved in June, none of them has been brought to the House floor and no Republicans have introduced a bill to deal with the undocumented population.
USA Today says some House Republicans are pushing their colleagues to get those bills moving.
Reps. David Valadao (R-California) and Jeff Denham (R-California) have pressed Republicans to sign onto a letter they hope to present to Boehner in January supporting action on immigration legislation but have yet to reveal the volume of support for their bid.
Denham said: “There is a surprising level of interest" among his GOP colleagues.
“We’ve been getting a good percentage of our conference signing on.”
Denham added that they’d have even more signatories, but some supportive Republicans are reluctant for fear of what primary season will bring as Conservative groups have made it clear that they will support more conservative GOP candidates against lawmakers who back the Senate bill.
He added: “It puts a target on their back,” Denham said.
Other observers maintain Boehner’s repudiation of outside conservative groups as his chamber passed the budget deal last week was evidence that he might be willing to push an immigration bill that isn’t supported by the Tea Party wing of his party.
These include Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum group that supports the Senate bill.
Noorani said: “It shows that Boehner wants to get things done and he’s not going to be held hostage by the extreme right.
“You win the conference, you win leadership, and we’re getting closer and closer to winning the conference.”