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House GOP Resisting Pressure to Rush an Immigration Bill

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the leading critics of the Senate bill, asserted that it provides “absolutely no benefits for Americans.” He added that there is “no momentum for amnesty in the House.”

“The bill does not promote or ensure any of the principles that we know will ensure a safer and more stable nation,” he said. “Those who voted for this bill sacrificed the rule of law for a meaningless political trophy. Now, we are left with a choice in the House. Conservatives who truly understand the direction that our nation is headed must lead our conference, and prove that the pillars of American exceptionalism will not collapse.”

Regardless, two of the primary architects of the Senate bill, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), remain optimistic that the lower chamber can develop an immigration package that can lead to a compromise.

Schumer said he found Boehner’s position that the issue needs to be addressed “encouraging.”

“We’re moving forward, and immigration reform, I think, has a strong future this year here in Washington,” Schumer said.

Carney also found that among House Republicans “there is a recognition that action has to be taken here. And we consider that a good sign that progress is possible.”

“We’re not going to game out how that progress is going to play out,” Carney said. “Obviously, there are leaders in the House and others who will decide what happens. But we believe that we need to act on comprehensive immigration reform. We believe that, as we demonstrated yesterday, the benefits of comprehensive immigration reform are enormous for the country. I mean we’re talking about $850 billion in deficit reduction.’’

One issue that might yet impede progress is the manner in which the House might approach the subject. Leadership remains reluctant to package disparate immigration measures into one bill, ala Obamacare, which remains the focus of overwhelming GOP enmity. The chance of the chamber developing an omnibus measure is slight, with lawmakers instead preferring a piece-by-piece approach that could eventually complicate negotiations with the Senate.

“While the Senate has every right to pass solutions it deems appropriate, the House does as well,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is being called on to oversee immigration legislation. “That’s the American legislative process. Since the beginning of the year, the House Judiciary Committee has taken a step-by-step approach to reforming our nation’s immigration laws, embarking on a careful, methodical examination of various components of our immigration system.”

The Heritage Foundation, a key Washington-based conservative think tank, is among those organizations working against a wide-ranging immigration bill, maintaining that Congress should “begin by working on the solutions on which everyone can agree rather than insisting on a comprehensive approach that divides Americans.”

“Today, Washington defaults to turning every big issue into Obamacare -- solutions that are labeled politically ‘too big to fail,’ but in practice not only fail to address root problems, but make those problems worse,” the foundation said in a report titled “Advancing the Immigration Nation: Heritage’s Positive Path to Immigration and Border Security Reform.”

“Repeating this practice will be a disaster for immigration and border security,” the report said. “Worse, if Americans acquiesce to a ‘comprehensive’ immigration bill they will send Washington yet another signal that they are satisfied with a government that just does ‘something’ rather than demanding governance that actually solves problems.”