Speaker John Boehner and other senior House Republicans are telling donors and industry groups that they aim to pass immigration legislation this year, despite the reluctance of many Republicans to tackle the divisive issue before the November elections.
Many lawmakers and activists have assumed the issue was off the table in an election year. But Mr. Boehner said at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month he was “hellbent on getting this done this year,” according to two people in the room.
A spokesman for Mr. Boehner didn’t dispute the account but said no action is possible until President Barack Obama proves himself a trustworthy partner to Republicans.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, delivered an upbeat message about legislative prospects during a recent trip to Silicon Valley, said Carl Guardino, chief executive of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, who hosted his visit.
He said Mr. Goodlatte told him action in 2014 was “entirely possible,” likely in the form of votes this summer on five to seven immigration bills. A spokeswoman for Mr. Goodlatte declined to comment on the exchange.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.) also is drafting legislation that would give qualifying undocumented immigrants legal status and the chance to apply for citizenship through existing channels. The bill includes border-security measures and an effort to clear the backlog of applications for permanent legal status, known as green cards.
House leaders have told Mr. Diaz-Balart to have the legislation ready to go for possible debate in June or July, an aide said.
One issue that could impact the timetable in Congress is a review of deportation policy now under way by the Department of Homeland Security, at Mr. Obama’s direction.
A senior administration official said some modest fixes are expected within the coming weeks. But in a meeting with lawmakers, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said other changes could come later in the year if the House continues to stall on legislation, congressional aides said.
Source: Wall Street Journal | LAURA MECKLER