House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is happy with the pace at which his colleagues are working on immigration reform, because he thinks members of the lower chamber and the American public will be better educated on the subject that way.
Speaking at his weekly briefing on Thursday, Boehner said the House will carry on with its “common-sense, step-by-step” approach because Americans are tired of bulky legislation that no one has bothered reading.
“The American people have kind of had it with 1,300-page bills that no one’s read,” he said. “I think moving in this manner helps to educate our members, helps to educate the American people and gives us a practical way forward.”
The Senate has already passed its 2013 immigration reform bill -- more than 1,000 pages long -- but the House is still divided on a strategy for moving forward. Two House committees have passed a handful of piecemeal immigration bills while a bipartisan group of representatives have been secretly working on a comprehensive reform bill for approximately four years. That comprehensive proposal is said to be about 500 pages so far.
It is uncertain if a House comprehensive bill will be done before the summer recess.
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Despite these snags, Boehner said overhauling the immigration system is the right thing to do. When asked if some sort of reform bill will pass before a likely debt limit showdown later this year, he was confident.
“We’ll see but I would hope so,” Boehner said. “I would hope so.”
Boehner has repeatedly said he wouldn’t bring the Senate legislation to the House floor unless a majority of Republicans support it. The speaker has, however, given his support to another piecemeal bill that would provide legal status to children who were brought to America illegally, saying it is an issue of fairness. He said the principle of fairness should be applied to reform.
“Americans expect as a nation of laws we’ll enforce them, starting at the border, and I think it’s only fair,” he said at the briefing. “They expect that no one who broke our laws will get special treatment.”
He also said there is no fairness in giving green cards to individuals solely on the basis of “luck instead of considering people’s education and their skills.”
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we need immigration reform,” Boehner added. “It’s good for our country and frankly it’s the right thing to do. And that’s why the committees of the House will continue to do their work.”