- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

House Speaker John A. Boehner and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer both said Tuesday that a bipartisan group of eight House members are essentially in agreement on comprehensive immigration reform, and Mr. Hoyer said he expects a final agreement to be reached “in the near term.”

“I made clear the day after the election that dealing with immigration reform was a top priority, and it is,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “Last week the senior leaders met with our four members, who’ve been meeting with four Democrats now for over four years. And they’re essentially in agreement over how to proceed.”

The Ohio Republican deflected a question on a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the plan, saying only that there are many issues to be dealt with and that the bipartisan group has come up with “a pretty responsible solution.”

SEE ALSO: GOP road map: Immigration reform, fewer debates, $10M for minority outreach

Mr. Hoyer, though, said the plan does include a pathway to citizenship and that he expects a final agreement to be reached “in the near term.”

“They are close. I think they’ve made real progress,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters. “I’m very optimistic that we will pass a bill in the Senate and the House the president can sign, which will have comprehensive immigration and a pathway toward citizenship.”

Republicans involved in the negotiations include Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, who has opposed a pathway to citizenship, Reps. Sam Johnson and John Carter of Texas, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida. Representing the Democrats are Caucus Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, Rep. John Yarmouth of Kentucky, Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California.

A bipartisan group of eight Senators are also crafting a plan on the issue. The Republican National Committee’s exhaustive, 98-page roadmap for success in future elections unveiled Monday encouraged the GOP to embrace comprehensive immigration reform, though the report did not outline specific policy proposals.

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