Boehner presses for vote on illegals
WASHINGTON — Speaker John Boehner expressed optimism on Wednesday about House action by year's end on stalled efforts to overhaul immigration as Republicans discussed possible limited steps to deal with the contentious issue.
Boehner publicly and privately raised the possibility of a House vote although he faces strong opposition from Tea Partiers even more resistant to giving President Obama a domestic achievement in light of the recent, rancorous fight over the partial government shutdown.
“I still think immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed, and I'm hopeful,” Boehner told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference when asked if the House can act in the remaining weeks.
The House has just five legislative weeks left, though lawmakers indicated that could change.
Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, labor unions and religious organizations including Catholic bishops and evangelicals are pressing for immigration legislation. Many of their members plan a concerted lobbying effort on Capitol Hill next week.
Democrats, meanwhile, maintained their pressure on the House GOP, demanding a vote on comprehensive legislation similar to the Senate-passed bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living here illegally and tighten border security.
“Speaker Boehner, what are you waiting for?” asked Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., at a separate news conference of senior House Democrats.
The Senate passed its bill in June with bipartisan support, but the measure has languished in the House.
Most House Republicans reject a comprehensive approach, and many dispute offering citizenship to people who broke immigration laws to be in this country. The House Judiciary Committee has moved forward with individual, single-issue immigration bills.
Although House Republican leaders say they want to solve the issue, which has become a political drag for the GOP, many rank-and-file House Republicans have shown little inclination to deal with it.