Boehner: House Won’t Negotiate with Senate on Immigration Bill

David Sherfinski and Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, November 13, 2013

Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that House Republicans will not enter into negotiations with the Senate on a massive immigration bill, effectively killing chances this year for a broad deal that would legalize illegal immigrants and rewrite the legal immigration system.

Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the House will operate on its own timetable and won’t be rushed by President Obama’s suggested year-end deadline or the looming 2014 elections—though he said he does still want to take some action on immigration.

“We’ve made it clear that we’re going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, told reporters Wednesday. “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. And frankly, I’ll make clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.”

The announcement, which came after House Republicans held a closed-door meeting, signals the end of chances for action on immigration this year.

With just a few days left on the calendar, Republicans are focused on other issues and have yet to find the kind of agreement within their own ranks that would be needed to bring bills to the floor.

Indeed, Mr. Boehner said he’s asked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte to develop a broad set of principles for addressing immigration. That sounds like a step backward, since Mr. Goodlatte has already overseen passage of several specific immigration bills through his committee.

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Immigrant-rights advocates said Republicans were risking their political lives.

“Should they slow-walk it until they get to ‘no’ this year and in this Congress, Boehner will go down in history as the man that sealed his party’s fate with the fastest growing groups of voters in America,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a lobby group.

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Meanwhile, President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden met Wednesday morning at the White House with faith leaders to discuss the importance of approving immigration reform.

“The leaders expressed their concerns over the impact the broken immigration system is having on families throughout their congregations,” the White House said. “The president and the leaders discussed their shared commitment to raise the moral imperative for immigration reform and said they will continue keeping the pressure on Congress so they can swiftly pass commonsense reform.”

Mr. Obama told the gathering there is “no reason for House Republicans to continue to delay action on this issue.”

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