The House of Representatives returns this week to continue working on sticky legislative issues, but passing a 2013 immigration reform bill isn't high on the list of its priorities. In fact, a memo sent last Friday by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor merely lists immigration as an afterthought.
Instead, energy and economic growth, student loans, appropriations and government oversight (think IRS and Benghazi scandals) top the legislative agenda for July.
Prior to leaving for the July 4 recess, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that provides a 13-year path to citizenship and boosts security along the southern border, including doubling the number of patrol agents. However, House Republicans have dismissed that legislation, calling it dead on arrival, and said members will work on their own measures. Still, only a small number of immigration-related bills have passed House committees, dealing with mandatory employment verification, agriculture guest workers and high-skilled workers, interior enforcement and border security. House members working on a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill for about four years now have yet to produce it.
Whether there will be a vote on a House comprehensive measure is still up in the air, but lawmakers in the lower chamber could possibly vote on smaller border security legislation bills this month.
“The House may begin consideration of the border security measures that have been passed by the Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees and begin reviewing other immigration proposals,” Cantor’s memo read.
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There will be a special House conference on immigration Wednesday, regarding how to best reform the system. Concerned that the Senate bill puts legalizing the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country ahead of border security, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and former member of the House immigration reform gang, remains optimistic, despite its low priority.
But Republicans have to do this right politically or it’s “going to be the death of the Republican Party,” he said on MSNBC’S “Meet the Press” this Sunday. Failure to do so will mean losing the base, while illegal immigration continues and the Hispanic community will turn to those offering a faster pathway to citizenship, Labrador said. Labrador left immigration talks in June because he reportedly couldn’t agree on healthcare. The House bill would reportedly offer a 15-year path to citizenship.
“I think we lose on both grounds if we don’t do it right,” he said.