By David Sherfinski and Stephen Dinan
November 13, 2013
Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that House Republicans will not enter into negotiations with the Senate on a massive immigration bill, effectively killing chances this year for a broad deal that would legalize illegal immigrants and rewrite the legal immigration system.
Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the House will operate on its own timetable and won't be rushed by President Obama's suggested year-end deadline or the looming 2014 elections -- though he said he does still want to take some action on immigration.
"We've made it clear that we're going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration," Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, told reporters Wednesday. "The idea that we're going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House. And frankly, I'll make clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."
The announcement, which came after House Republicans held a closed-door meeting, signals the end of chances for action on immigration this year.
With just a few days left on the calendar, Republicans are focused on other issues and have yet to find the kind of agreement within their own ranks that would be needed to bring bills to the floor.
Indeed, Mr. Boehner said he's asked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte to develop a broad set of principles for addressing immigration. That sounds like a step backward, since Mr. Goodlatte has already overseen passage of several specific immigration bills through his committee.
"Let's understand something. I want us to deal with this issue. But I want to deal with it in a common-sense step-by-step way," Mr. Boehner said.
Immigrant-rights advocates said Republicans were risking their political lives.
"Should they slow-walk it until they get to Congress, Boehner will go down in history as the man that sealed his party's fate with the fastest growing groups of voters in America," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a lobby group.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a tweet telling Mr. Boehner it should be "easy" to take up immigration.
She pointed to the bill she and fellow House Democrats introduced that would take the Senate's legalization program, strip out the specific, tough border security measures and replace them with a call for Homeland Security to come up with a security plan.
Mrs. Pelosi said she believes there are the votes to pass her bill through the House.
Three Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors, along with about 180 members of the Democratic Caucus who are able to vote on the House floor.
By contrast, House Republicans are working on a series of bills that would include a smaller legalization, stricter interior enforcement and a rewrite of guest-worker programs.
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