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by
Bridget Johnson

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June 17, 2013 - 8:20 am

A Republican member of the House’s version of the Group of Eight indicated there’s still some distance to cross before they arrive at a bipartisan agreement in the lower chamber.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said he’s been working with the House immigration reform group, which includes Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), for four years.

Ideally, he said this morning on MSNBC, they “would be able to finalize a bipartisan agreement.”

“That just hasn’t happened yet. So the House is going to continue to move forward,” he said in reference to House Judiciary Committee’s plans to move ahead with standalone immigration bills.

“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to have a bipartisan proposal to bring forward to the House in relatively short order. In the meantime, however, it’s important the House do what it’s gonna do,” Diaz-Balart continued. “And, you, ultimately, hopefully, there’ll be a bill that we can conference on, that we’re — the Senate passes a bill, we’ll pass, hopefully, either a comprehensive bill or a number of different bills, and then we can go to conference.”

The Florida Republicans said they had an agreement at one point, but it was torpedoed by the Dems, not the GOP side.

“We had an agreement once. And then, unfortunately, and I think it’s coming from the Democratic leadership and not from the group that I’m negotiating with, a deal that we had already agreed on and, again, I think it’s coming from Nancy Pelosi, we had to reopen the deal,” Diaz-Balart said.

“We had a second deal what was announced to the press, where we all announced, the bipartisan group, that we had reached an agreement in principle. On a second occasion, we had to reopen the same issue that had already been reached, where we had already reached an agreement on a second time. And, again, I think the problem that we’re running into is — is Nancy Pelosi. I’m not quite sure if she wants a bill.”

He said the negotiators are working on border security, interior immigration enforcement and “a modernized visa” system.

“We’ve only had one outstanding issue, which is the health care issue. We’ve had two agreements on that issue. And both times, the folks that I’ve been negotiating with have had to back track on their agreement. That’s not coming from them; that’s coming from¬†likely a higher pay grade,” continued Diaz-Balart.

“Can we get a bipartisan proposal? That’s where I think Nancy Pelosi has frankly become part of the problem. Then, you’re talking about the issue of can we pass anything in the House. And that’s also gonna be a very difficult issue.”

One hangup is healthcare costs, he added.

“And here’s the issue there that we’re dealing with, is should the taxpayer be stuck with the bill of the health care of the 10 million or 11 million people? Or should those folks who are going to be legalized, earn legalization, should they be responsible for their health care bill? That’s the issue we haven’t solved yet. I think once we do that, we’ll hopefully have a bipartisan proposal,” Diaz-Balart said.

“Then comes the, frankly, the second big hurdle, which is can we pass a bipartisan comprehensive bill through the House? That will be difficult, but I’m optimistic.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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