As the immigration reform debate moves to the House, Republicans have all but rejected the Senate’s comprehensive approach and instead are embracing a package of targeted bills.
Key sponsors of the Senate legislation, however, aren’t giving up hope. They say House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and other Republican leaders eventually will embrace a broader package that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and enhanced border security.
“I believe by the end of this year, the House will pass the Senate bill. I know that’s not what they think now, and they’ll say, ‘Oh, no, that’s not what’s going to happen,’ but I think it will,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Fourteen Republicans joined Senate Democrats in passing the measure, the most significant step forward for immigration reform in nearly three decades. Supporters and analysts have hailed the legislation as proof that bipartisan solutions to complex problems are possible, with Republican heavyweights such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida having played integral roles in drafting the legislation alongside Mr. Schumer and other Democrats.
President Obama over the weekend set a timetable for the House to pass an immigration reform bill by the end of July.
Mr. Boehner and other Republicans are rejecting that schedule and indicating that the House will take its own approach on immigration reform. They have cast aside the Senate bill that covered citizenship, border security, employment verification systems and a host of other steps.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration and border security, reiterated that position Sunday morning and dismissed Mr. Schumer’s comments.
“We’re not going to take his advice. The Senate bill is not going to pass in the House,” Mr. Gowdy said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I’m more interested in getting it right than doing it on Sen. Schumer’s schedule,” said Mr. Gowdy, adding that his subcommittee and others already have made significant progress with individual pieces of legislation rather than one bill.
Republicans have several objections to the Senate bill, chief among them the fact that illegal immigrants will be granted a path to citizenship before the U.S.-Mexico border is fully secured.
“The Senate bill gives legal status to 11 million people before it solves all the problems, securing the border. … That’s 1986,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, referring to the Reagan-era immigration reform bill that promised to plug holes on the southwestern border alongside granting amnesty to many of those in the U.S. illegally.
The federal government failed to live up to its obligations on the security front, and Mr. Goodlatte — speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday — said he doesn’t want Congress to make the same mistakes again.
Like his fellow Republicans, he said a “step-by-step” approach is preferable to the House majority.
Democrats say that tack will lead to failure.