House GOP Digs in Heels on Senate Immigration Bill

Image: House GOP Digs in Heels on Senate Immigration Bill Rep. Virginia Foxx

Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013 10:57 AM

By John Gizzi

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Despite confidence voiced by the White House and key senators that an immigration reform package would soon pass the Senate, all signs from Republican House members point to the package going nowhere when it reaches that side of Congress.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Monday that "the president continues to be encouraged by the progress being made in the Senate on comprehensive immigration reform. That process has now passed through committee, and we look forward to a robust debate and expect the legislation to move forward in a timely manner."

Carney's remarks came as House Republicans were digging in their heels in opposing anything "comprehensive."

For the most part, Newsmax found, Republicans in the House are still firmly committed to dealing with the immigration issue on what many of them call an "incremental" or "piece-by-piece" approach rather than enacting any "package" legislation.

"If we've learned anything from Obamacare it's that Washington isn't too good at 'comprehensive' solutions. Massive laws inevitably fall short of promises and leave the country begging for real reform," Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina wrote recently on the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research's website.

Foxx, secretary of the House Republican Conference, advocated a completely different approach than the "package deal" expected to pass the Senate by July 4. As she put it: "The best way to move forward with reform is through regular order so every issue -- from enforcement and border security to E-Verify and visas -- can be fully vetted step-by-step for its alignment with America's national security and economic growth interests."

Freshman Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana agreed. Reached by Newsmax on Tuesday, Messer said: "'Comprehensive' always ends up with negative, unintended consequences."

He also took exception to the oft-used term "incremental" to describe the approach of most House Republicans to an immigration package, saying the approach of dealing with immigration in separate parts is "better described as 'more germane.'"

The House Republican package "will very likely start with border security -- an issue that is a major reason people distrust their government for not doing what it says,” Messer told Newsmax. "And then we will take up the issue of workers’ visas."

He said California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa "has a bill to deal with that."

Newsmax spoke to one Republican House member who takes a slightly different approach to immigration reform. Although he prefers the step-by-step approach to a package deal, Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho said: "I'm willing to consider anything as long as it deals with the most serious problems involving immigration. If there was a 'comprehensive' proposal that dealt with future flow [of immigrants to the U.S.], border security, and interior enforcement, I can probably support it."

Labrador also pointed out that if a package deal emerged that dealt with those problems, “we would then find out if the Democrats are serious about dealing with them."

The Senate is expected to pass a comprehensive package by July 4 and then the House Judiciary Committee under Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, will be center stage in addressing the issue.

In what might be the most prophetic of his comments on the immigration debate this week, Jay Carney said, "It’s important to note that there's a lot of work to be done here, and we've seen with a variety of issues over time that victory can be declared early. And this is real work because it's something that requires bipartisan broad support."

Whether that "broad support" exists on immigration reform will clearly be one of the most compelling stories of Congress in 2013.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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