Immigration bill unlikely to pass House
WASHINGTON — Immigration reform advocates and opponents are turning their attention to the House with the Senate's passage of a landmark immigration reform bill to boost border security and provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
The Senate passed the historic 1,200-plus-page bill on Thursday by a vote of 68-32. Fourteen Republican senators joined all 52 Democrats and two independents to pass the bill, which was crafted by a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators.
“The Senate's passage of a major immigration reform bill is a milestone, but it is only half the battle,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration expert and law professor at Cornell University Law School. “A tougher battle lies ahead in the House.”
House Speaker John Boehner vowed that the House would take up its own legislation rather than vote on the bipartisan Senate bill.
“The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said on Thursday before the vote. “We're going to do our own bill, through regular order, and it'll be legislation that reflects the will of our (Republican) majority and the will of the American people.”
Boehner plans to meet with House Republicans on July 10 to discuss how to proceed.
House leaders so far have favored a much narrower, piecemeal approach to reform that does not include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a leader of the Gang of Eight, predicted that the House will not be able to ignore the strong bipartisan support the legislation received in the Senate.
Senators who supported the bill hope that the bulk of their legislation will survive once House and Senate negotiators meet to reconcile their versions of reform.
But Boehner, who is struggling to hold together his fractured Republican caucus, warned that he would not bring any bill to the House floor that cannot win the support of a majority of Republicans. He said he would not allow a bill — even a conference agreement — to pass with a minority of Republicans joining with a majority of Democrats.