House Speaker John Boehner will defy tea party critics and undertake broad immigration reform next year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted Saturday.
“I think that John Boehner will conference with the Senate," the Nevada Democrat told The Hill
in an interview. "Why wouldn’t he? He’ll have a lot of pressure from his members now that the election is getting closer.
“Some of his members are in very marginal districts where they need to do something on immigration,” Reid said of the Ohio Republican.
After the Senate passed its sweeping immigration legislation in June, Boehner declared that the House would not take an "Obamacare-like" approach to reform, but would instead pass smaller bills addressing specific issues regarding the plight of 11 million illegal aliens
in the United States.
Boehner reiterated that
position last month, saying at a news conference: “We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill. … The idea that we're going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House."
Boehner is sticking to that approach, spokesman Michael Steel told the Hill on Saturday.
“The speaker has been very clear that the House will only address immigration reform in a step-by-step common-sense manner,” Steel said.
Immigration-reform advocates had hoped that a compromise could be reached by the end of the year through negotiation between the chambers, which would result in legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually become legal or to receive citizenship status.
The pathway issue remains the most controversial part of the Senate bill.
Reid told the Hill that Boehner's recent attacks on tea party and other conservative groups who opposed this month's budget deal would lead him to conference with the Senate.
The speaker has been under pressure by conservatives to not even pass smaller reform bills, however, the Hill reports.
The critics fear being outmaneuvered by the Senate, which could combine restrictive legislation on such issues as border security or work visas with the comprehensive bill — then sending it back to the House for straight up-or-down vote, the Hill reports.
"Let's understand something," Boehner said at the November news conference. "I want to deal with this issue. This is about trying to do this in a way that the American people and our members can absorb.
"There are hundreds of issues involved in dealing with immigration reform," the speaker added. "We've got to deal with these in a common-sense way where our members understand what we're doing and their constituents understand."
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