Conservatives Determined to Derail Leadership Efforts on Immigration

Image: Conservatives Determined to Derail Leadership Efforts on Immigration Rep. Steve King

Thursday, 01 May 2014 08:23 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Conservatives in the House are making a concerted effort to derail any plans by the GOP leadership to pass immigration reform by the end of the year after Speaker John Boehner mocked them last week for not having the gumption to get it done.

According to Politico
, a group of conservatives are meeting this week to develop a strategy. Many of the conservative lawmakers oppose provisions in a bill that passed the Senate providing a pathway to citizenship for the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants. 

Boehner later admitted the comments went too far, but the episode got conservatives' backs up and inflamed divisions that were already simmering. 

"We have to man the watchtowers 24/7," Iowa Rep. Steve King told Politico, referring to a feeling among hardliners that House leaders will try to get immigration measures through the back door.

Alabama GOP Rep. Mo Brooks, who is involved in the effort, declined to disclose any details of the meeting or how many lawmakers would be involved.

"It is difficult to plan a specific course of action when the leadership keeps tossing out vague ways to give amnesty to illegal aliens," Brooks told Politico. "When we see a specific plan from the House leadership, then those of us who favor American citizens first will have a better idea of where the leadership is specifically going and how we will specifically respond."

Since the beginning of the year, the leadership made it clear it intended to pass immigration reform in 2014.  Boehner outlined specific proposals at the Republican retreat at the end of January.

Nevertheless, a February Roll Call survey of every Republican member of the House revealed that only 19 representatives were willing to go on record backing Boehner's immigration reform guidelines.

Since the most recent spat between the leadership and conservatives, anti-immigration reform lawmakers are now scouring House bills, looking for provisions that could potentially lead to a House-Senate immigration conference, King said, according to Politico.

Some proponents of reform are now concerned that if the House doesn't put immigration bills on the floor by July, reform efforts could be dead, Politico reported.

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart believes a GOP reform bill is possible and says he has found that more and more colleagues are coming to realize that it's important to take action, and puts the chances of a bill passing in 2014 at 45 percent, Politico reported.

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