House opposes core proposal to provide path to citizenship, questions border security.
Kathleen Hunter and Roxana Tiron
The most significant revision of immigration law in a generation, which the Senate is on track to pass today, faces resistance in the Republican-led House where opposition to a path to citizenship remains strong.
Many House Republicans prefer a piecemeal approach with an emphasis on showing that border security measures are working before considering legal status for an estimated 11 million undocumented U.S. immigrants. The citizenship path is at the core of the Senate’s comprehensive bill.
"It’s dead on arrival here as is because you couldn’t a get majority of Republicans there," Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said in an interview at the Capitol. "Why in the world would a majority of Republicans embrace something in the House that a majority of Republicans in the Senate didn’t embrace?"
The Senate bill, which could come to a final vote as soon as today, is the product of months of painstaking negotiations aimed at securing support from as many senators as possible from both parties. Still, the chamber’s top Republican said he’ll oppose the measure.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said today that he will vote against the bill because he isn’t convinced that the legislation would secure the U.S. border and deter a future wave of illegal immigration. His refusal to support the bill may influence Republican support for the law in the House.
"I had wanted very much to support a reform to our immigration law," McConnell said on the Senate floor today. "So it’s with a great deal of regret, for me at least, that the final bill didn’t turn out to be something that I could support."
The measure seeks to balance the path to citizenship that Democrats demand with strong enough border security to satisfy Republicans. At the behest of Republicans, senators yesterday adopted an amendment that would direct $38 billion in resources to securing the border, a proposal that drew the support of 15 Republicans and allowed the bill to advance.
Meanwhile, the House remains uncertain over how to proceed with its immigration legislation as a prelude to cross-chamber negotiations on a final bill.
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has let Virginia Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Judiciary Committee chairman, set the pace and tone for the House’s efforts on immigration.