With only 13 legislative days remaining on the House calendar after this week, an increasing number of House Members are saying the lower chamber will wait until 2014 to take up immigration legislation.
Notably, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told amnesty activists protesting at his district office that the House would wait until next year to address immigration reform. Angelica Salas, Chairwoman of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles who took part in the protest said the Congressman told her that there simply was not enough time to address immigration in 2013. (Associated Press, Nov. 8, 2013)
Salas described her conversation with the third-ranking GOP Congressman in a conference call with reporters on Friday: "What he said was, there's 13 days left, it's very hard to do anything in 13 days." (Id.) McCarthy's office confirmed his conversation with her, but added that the Majority Whip "supports fixing our broken immigration system." (Id.)
Additionally, rank-and-file Republicans who support amnesty have been saying that immigration reform is dead until next year. For example, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a Member of the now defunct House Gang of Eight, acknowledged that the Congressional calendar seemingly prevents the House from passing immigration legislation before the end of 2013. "I don't see the math. There are only 16 days, legislative days, for the floor," Diaz-Balart told the Miami Herald last week. (Miami Herald, Nov. 7, 2013) "Unless someone has some magic potion, I don't see how there's time to go through the committee process and through the floor with what could ultimately be six or nine bills." (Id.)
Similarly, fellow former Gang of Eight Republican Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told reporters that he does not think immigration legislation is "going to happen this session unless we start seeing some more good-faith efforts on the part of the president to negotiate." (The Spokesman-Review, Nov. 2, 2013) Representative Labrador, who was the first member to walk away from the House Gang of Eight negotiations, now says "it's not the time" for House Republicans to work with President Obama on immigration because the fight to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling "just exacerbated the lack of trust between the two sides." (Id.)
Even pro-amnesty House Democrats are beginning to recognize that "comprehensive" immigration reform is unlikely in 2013. "It looks difficult now because of how many days we have left," pro-amnesty Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) acknowledged in a phone interview on Friday. (The Monitor, Nov. 10, 2013) "The last time I talked to my Republican friends…I think they were telling me they don't think it's going to happen," he said. (Id.)
There is, however, at least one key player still holding out hope for this year: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. In an interview with Bloomberg Television's Al Hunt last week, Priebus argued there is still time for the GOP-led House to pass "comprehensive" immigration reform before the year's end. "The idea that either a comprehensive approach or a multi-tiered approach is not going to happen by the end of the year, I don't think that's necessarily true. I think that it can happen, and I think people like Paul Ryan and others still want something like that to happen," Priebus said. (See Bloomberg Transcript, Nov. 8, 2013) "It could happen next year…I don't think there's any sort of midnight hour here." (Id.)
Underscoring that at the end of the day GOP leaders are determined to pass some form of comprehensive immigration legislation, Priebus concluded by saying his "gut" feeling is that the House will pass an immigration overhaul before the current Congress ends in 2014, emphasizing that it is only a matter of — when, not whether — House Speaker Boehner brings immigration legislation to the floor, be it this year or the next... Stay tuned