Pelosi Now Open to Boehner's Piecemeal Immigration Reform

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 06:33 PM

By Cathy Burke

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was furious with Speaker John Boehner a week ago over immigration reform — but now she says she’d be open to a piecemeal approach if that’s what the Ohio Republican wants to do.

“We have always said on that score that the speaker is the speaker, and any way he wants to bring the bill to the floor, in pieces or in big chunks or whatever it is, we just want to see legislation come to the floor so that Congress can act upon that legislation, the House can, and send it to the conference table with the Senate,” the California Democrat said Thursday, The Washington Times reported.

A House measure has almost 200 co-sponsors, including three Republicans, and “many more Republicans who have said they would vote for the bill if it comes to the floor,” Pelosi added.

The change in mood is in sharp contrast to Nov. 14, when Pelosi erupted at Boehner’s suggestion the push for comprehensive immigration reform was over this year.

"The very idea that there wouldn't be an immigration bill, I think that that's outrageous," Pelosi said, according to The Hill.

"I don't know whether people are taking it seriously, or not. But if that's the indication, well that's just a dereliction of duty."

At that time, Boehner said the House would work on its own timeline and would not enter into negotiations with the Senate, which has passed a single broad bill legalizing illegal immigrants and rewriting the legal immigration system.

Asked Thursday if immigration reform is dead in his chamber, Boehner said, “absolutely not,” according to the Times.

“I believe that Congress needs to deal with this issue,” he said. “Our committees are continuing to do their work. There are a lot of private conversations that are underway to try to figure out how do we best move on a common-sense, step-by-step basis to address this very important issue.”

He also said he was “encouraged” when President Barack Obama said he “wouldn’t stand in the way of a step-by-step immigration reform.”

“The American people are skeptical of big, comprehensive bills, and frankly, they should be,” Boehner said. “The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time.”

House Republicans are working on a series of bills, including ones to stiffen immigration enforcement, rewrite guest-worker programs, and require tougher border security, the Washington Times reported.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, also is working on a long-awaited bill that would grant legal status to young illegal immigrants.

“The leader has repeatedly said he believes children who know no other country and are here at no fault of their own should be able to remain here,” said Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper. “If Democrats end their my-way-or-the-highway approach on immigration reform, it would help get something done towards that end.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has said he won’t pass an immigration bill unless it includes a broad pathway to citizenship for most illegal immigrants, which House Republicans have rejected.

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