Speaker John Boehner says a number of lawmakers from both parties has been having secret talks on immigration reform and they “basically [have] an agreement," The Hill reports.
The Speaker made the comments earlier in the week during a Q&A session at the Ripon Society, a Republican advocacy group.
“I said it the day after the election. I meant it, and we’re going to have to deal with it,” Boehner said in response to an audience question. “I think there’s a bipartisan group of members that have been meeting now for three or four years. Frankly, I think they basically have an agreement. I’ve not seen the agreement. I don’t know all the pitfalls in it, but it’s in my view, the right group of members.”
Boehner said the group, whose members he did not identify, included “some of the hard heads on our side, and some of the people involved on immigration reform on their side.”
Boehner continued, “My theory was, if these folks could work this out, it’d be a big step in the right direction,” Boehner said. “So I would think you’d hear a lot more about immigration reform on the House side soon.”
Boehner spoke at the Ripon Society on Tuesday in an appearance closed to the press. He addressed the group for some 20 minutes, and Boehner offered a sweeping assessment of the beginning of Obama’s second term, discussing such issues as gun control, entitlements and tax reform.
The Ripon Society released a videotaped excerpt of Boehner's appearance later in the week.
What the House is doing with regards to immigration reform is unclear. However, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, has emerged as a point person on the matter, although he declined to vote for Boehner as Speaker. He is a longtime immigration attorney. Labrador has been in discussions with the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and a leading Democratic reform proponent, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), according to The Hill.
So far, the Senate has taken the lead on immigration with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) having presented a plan earlier this month. Obama's administration has indicated the president would quickly take up immigration reform.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told The Hill that although Boehner is optimistsic and discussions have taken place, legislation is not ready to go.
“Informal groups of members constantly meet to discuss all kinds of issues,” he said. “At this point, there is no such legislation scheduled for a hearing, let alone a markup, in the committees of jurisdiction in the House.”
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