Tags: Immigration | trade | bills | immigration | Raul Labrador | Tim Huelskamp | gizzi

House Conservatives Say Immigration Reform Not in Trade Bills

By Thursday, 21 May 2015 11:12 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Several of the House's most conservative skeptics of two proposed trade bills told Newsmax there is little or no evidence that the legislation contains language to advance comprehensive immigration reform.

At the regular monthly "Conversations with Conservatives" meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Republican Reps. Raul Labrador of Idaho and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, among others, made it clear that, while they are undecided about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership legislation, they were quite certain their ratification would not sneak into law the immigration reform favored by the president and passed by the Senate.

In so doing, the lawmakers voiced disagreement with Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, the leading Senate Republican opponent of the trade bills, and sided with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and the Obama White House.

On April 30, Ryan dismissed the charge that comprehensive immigration reform is contained within the trade legislation as "the latest urban legend."

Two weeks later, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told Newsmax that Ryan was correct. He said that although the president strongly backs comprehensive immigration reform, "I do not envision that being coupled together with this other economic priority — passage of TPA [Trade Promotion Authority] legislation that gives the president the authority he needs to complete the TPP agreement and the authority he needs to enforce it."

Labrador said: "We have not found any evidence there is something in the deal that mentions immigration." He explained that he has instructed his staffers to bring him every news report they can find on the proposed trade legislation, which is available only to members of Congress and the administration.

The Idaho lawmaker, who has worked closely on immigration issues in Congress, added that the language of the TPP does include mention of L-Visas, which allow people from other countries to travel to and from the U.S. on business.

"We’re trying to get to the bottom of this," he told Newsmax. "Maybe Sen. Sessions can send me the information he has [that immigration is in fact in the legislation]."

Huelskamp told us he has read the proposed trade agreement and "there’s hundreds of pages in it but nothing in there on immigration." Like Labrador, he said he found mention of "visas for business purposes, but no language on immigration."

Both Huelskamp and Labrador are undecided on whether to support the controversial trade legislation.

Freshman Rep. Dave Brat, R-Virginia, who described himself as "leaning against" the trade proposal, noted that others said there is no immigration language contained in it.

"But it depends on what 'is' is," he said, paraphrasing the celebrated quote of President Clinton in sworn testimony in the 1990s. Brat, who has also read the measure in the room in which it is secured, said that while there may not be immigration language there today, "it doesn't mean there can't be tomorrow."

Regarding Ryan's dismissal of the immigration-in-trade law claim as an "urban legend," the Virginian said that "I would have thought President Obama's runaround of [Congress] on immigration regulations [was] an urban legend, that it was unbelievable a year ago."

It has since happened through Obama's executive order, Brat said, and "this breaks trust."

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

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Several of the House's most conservative skeptics of two proposed trade bills told Newsmax there is little or no evidence that the legislation contains language to advance comprehensive immigration reform.
trade, bills, immigration, Raul Labrador, Tim Huelskamp, gizzi
Thursday, 21 May 2015 11:12 AM
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