(Updates with Diaz-Balart comment starting in fourth paragraph.)
Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Most Republicans in the U.S. House oppose moving forward on immigration legislation even with widespread support among lawmakers for a framework from party leaders, said a key House Republican working on the issue.
"That’s still an uphill battle," Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, said today at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington.
Diaz-Balart, 52, put the chances of getting a bill through the House this year at about 30 percent. Republicans are wary of overshadowing the party’s election-year message to repeal or revise President Barack Obama’s health-care law, he said.
"That’s the toughest argument against us," said Diaz- Balart, who has spent many of his 11 years in the House working on immigration policy. Other lawmakers don’t trust Obama to implement border security, he said.
Proposals to increase security along the U.S.-Mexico border and whether to legalize 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally have divided Republicans, who are trying to win more support from minority voters. Party leaders in the House say they won’t negotiate on a Senate bill, which passed that chamber with bipartisan support last year, that would grant a path to citizenship.
Still, bipartisan conversations are taking place behind closed doors. Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have met on the topic, said Kevin Seifert, a Ryan spokesman.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Jan. 29 that she and House Speaker John Boehner spoke about immigration policy before a Republican policy retreat last week.