House GOP: Senate Immigration Bill 'Dead on Arrival'

Thursday, 11 Jul 2013 08:20 AM

By John Gizzi

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Despite its bipartisan backing and the Senate's overwhelming vote in favor, the "comprehensive" immigration bill appears to be going nowhere in the House.

"The Senate bill is dead on arrival, period," sophomore Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican, told Newsmax. "And, for me, this is an easy one to be against. When I was in my district last week, 68 people came up to speak to me one-on-one. Zero were for it."

As it prepares to take up the issue of immigration, the Republican-run House will likely pass at least four separate pieces of legislation and thus keep to the long-standing vow from GOP lawmakers to deal with the issue "incrementally."

One thing that Republican House members who talked to Newsmax agreed on without hesitation was that the measure that passed the Senate would never be taken up on their side of Capitol Hill.

As to how the House will proceed, Fleischmann said: "We'll listen to one another in our conference. All 234 [Republican House members] will come together to discuss this issue and everyone will get an opportunity to speak. Where there is a consensus, we will proceed."

Regarding just where consensus will come, the Tennessean pointed to "keeping the borders safe, which is a national priority, making sure there are the resources to enforce anything we pass dealing with border security and the will to enforce it."

"And we need to reward those who came to this country and became citizens the legal way," Fleischmann said, describing how he witnessed a group of naturalized citizens take the oath of allegiance. "It was moving. We need to encourage and reward those who play by the rules."

Fleischmann emphasized that he and his colleagues "are in no rush to come up with something and pass it. At our annual retreat in Williamsburg [Va.] earlier this year, we discussed just how we should be making decisions as a majority. We'll proceed very carefully on this issue."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia strongly agreed there was strong opposition to the Senate bill among his Republican colleagues, and says the House would proceed to deal carefully with different parts of the immigration issue.

Rep. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told Newsmax, "I'm very much against the Senate bill and have always said we should take an incremental approach to immigration.

"The Senate had only one hearing while we have so far had a dozen hearings and on separate parts of the issue. We have been and will be very careful how we engage this issue."

Are Republican lawmakers concerned that their "slow and careful" approach to crafting an immigration bill could result in no bill at all? And are they concerned with President Barack Obama's warning that if they don't pass the Senate version of the bill, Republicans will not have a chance of winning the White House in 2016?

"Most of my colleagues are fully willing to pass no bill at all if the wrong bill emerges from an eventual conference between the House and Senate," Lankford said. "Quite frankly, we don't need political advice from Barack Obama."

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