Leadership in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives is moving forward in earnest with immigration reform, leaving many to believe that hearings may be held in April and a bill could be on its way to passage this summer. Behind-the-scenes negotiations that have included bi-partisan participation as well as representatives of labor and business, including agri-business, have proved fruitful.
The Senate effort is progressing quickly and this week the Republican leadership in the House, led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, began briefing their colleagues on the basics of the negotiations. It is believed that many different congressional working groups are reviewing immigration issues and weighing in prior to floor debates. In analyzing past failures, it appears as if the goal is to bring a relatively done deal to the floor of each chamber.
However, there are differences between the two governing bodies. Politico, an insider political website, reported that the House may take a piecemeal approach passing several smaller bills, while the Senate appears poise to tackle the entire issue in one piece of legislation. A conference committee of the legislative bodies will then be charged with sorting it all out.
The main political realties driving immigration reform remain intact. Democrats feel a need to reward the Hispanic vote that it received in such huge numbers in the last election cycle; most Republicans understand that the perception that they are anti-immigration doesn’t bode well in future elections as the Hispanic population continues to grow. However, Politico did point out that there are about 140 Republican representatives in the House that have very few Hispanics in their congressional districts and might not acquiesce to the views of the leadership. For these representatives, the passage of immigration reform must be looked at as a bill for the greater good of their party rather than for individual gain. Articulating the dilemma for Politico was Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) “I don’t like how some people on our side who are pushing a comprehensive plan say, ‘The reason we have to do this is because we’re not getting enough of the Hispanic vote at the presidential level.’ For me, policy should be driven because of policy, not politics, and I know that’s wishful thinking.”
The issue of citizenship and amnesty for those already in the country is considered a wedge issue within the Republican Party.
For more information, contact WG’s Ken Barbic, senior director of federal government affairs, at 202-295-0191.
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