Gang of Eight Targets House Republicans on Immigration

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Wednesday, 17 Jul 2013 12:06 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Some Senate Gang of Eight members are ratcheting up the pressure on House Republicans by enlisting the support of companies, conservatives, and nonprofit groups in an effort to target a list of 129 congressmen who may be willing to vote for a comprehensive immigration-overhaul bill.

According to The Huffington Post, Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina joined New York Democrat Chuck Schumer in a meeting with pro-reform groups Tuesday to discuss how to help move an immigration bill through the House.

Groups represented included Mark Zuckerberg's; tech giants Microsoft, Google, and Intel; the faith group Sojourners; and Republicans for Immigration Reform.
Noticeably absent was Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who helped get the Gang of Eight reform bill through the Senate on June 27 by a vote of 68 to 32.

"We have a badly broken immigration system that is in dire need of reform, and Sen. Rubio worked hard to produce and pass the best proposal possible in a Democrat-controlled Senate," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told The Huffington Post in an email. "The Senate's work has created an important opportunity for the House to advance reform further, but they should be given deference to decide their own way forward."

Graham suggested in the meeting that groups should get people to target Republicans at town hall meetings, while Schumer said pastors might use their sermons to highlight the importance of immigration reform, Politico reports.

McCain suggested a strategic option of introducing the bill piecemeal in order to increase the likelihood of building momentum for ultimate passage.

Schumer, who spearheaded immigration reform in the Senate, said the group plans to reconvene in 10 days to review what large corporations are doing to help put pressure on Republicans, Politico said.

"In an effort to grow support in the House for immigration reform, members of the Gang of Eight met with supporters of immigration reform and discussed how to spread the word, both why this is good for members' districts and the country," said Matt House, a spokesman for Schumer.

The group faces an uphill battle, given the fact that House Speaker John Boehner has already said he has no intention of bringing the comprehensive Senate bill to the floor because a majority of his conference opposes it.

"The House will not take up the Senate immigration bill. There are many issues related to immigration reform on which the business community, religious groups, and House Republicans can find common ground, but advocating for the House consideration of the Senate immigration bill is simply a waste of their time and resources," one House GOP leadership aide told Politico.

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