This week I’ve been hearing from some my friends in the field that the House is getting ready to introduce an immigration reform bill in the very near future—even, perhaps, ahead of the Senate. I’ll believe it when I see it. After reading some of the published reports about House action on this issue, I still think that the Senate, where a bipartisan group of influential Senators has actually put out a plan, is going to be first up with a bill.
The Hill did report Monday that a “bipartisan group of House negotiators is even further along in drafting a comprehensive immigration overhaul than its counterpart in the Senate,” and that this group was trying to release a draft bill directly before or after President Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12th.
But The Hill also noted that even though House Speaker John Boehner told a Republican advocacy organization last month that the House immigration group “basically [had] an agreement,” an aide later said that the Speaker’s assessment was “overly optimistic” as they “have not come to agreement on some of the big stuff.”
Moreover, Caitlin Huey-Burns, writing today forRealClearPolitics, suggests that Republican leadership is actually tapping the brakes on this effort:
House Speaker John Boehner… has advised his chamber to approach immigration reform slowly. “This is not about being in a hurry. This is about trying to get it right on behalf of the American people and those who are suffering under an immigration system that doesn’t work very well for anybody,” he told reporters Tuesday.
She also reports (as many others have) that there are still a significant number of Republicans in the House who are opposed to introducing a comprehensive bill, and would rather take on reform in a piecemeal fashion, through a series of separate bills.
Mike Flynn, writing for Breitbart.com about the revelation that a group of House members has been meeting to draft legislation on immigration reform reminiscent of the Senate talks, thinks that “the talks are even more political theater than the Senate effort.”
If I were in a position where I had to choose between focusing my advocacy efforts between the House and the Senate over the next few weeks, I think I’d go with the Senate. In particular, considering Sen. Marco Rubio’s strong interest in this topic—and apparent influence within his party on the pending legislation—the sizable number of adult education advocates in Florida seem to me to be in an interesting position to advocate for adult education resources in the Senate bill.
UPDATE 2/7/13: The National Journal seems to agree:
[[T]he House will likely hold hearings and markups, and maybe even offer the bipartisan bill, but they’re not going first. House Republican leadership thinks immigration will likely fail in the Senate, and they’re not wild about the idea of making their members take a politically tough vote only to have reform die.