On Wednesday, Republican members of the House of Representatives met in a closed-door meeting to discuss the issue of immigration reform. According to news outlets, the results of the meeting were simultaneously disappointing and hopeful for the prospects of comprehensive immigration reform.
On the one hand, it seems that as a whole, House Republicans have no intention of taking up the Senate’s bill, which would have been the easiest way for comprehensive immigration reform legislation to become law. While some think enough members of the House would cast favorable votes for the Senate’s bill to pass, it is extremely unlikely that the majority of Republicans in the House would vote for the bill. Because Speaker John Boehner has stated that he does not plan to bring up any legislation for a vote unless it is supported by a majority of Republicans – regardless of whether or not the bill could garner enough overall votes to pass – it seems increasingly unlikely that the House will not vote on the Senate bill.
If the House is not willing to vote on the Senate bill as is, another option that could lead to immigration reform sooner rather than later is the House constructing its own comprehensive legislation. If this happened, members of the House and the Senate would meet in order to combine the two bills into one bill they both agree on via the conference process. However, Wednesday’s meeting seems to rule out this possibility as well. Reports of Wednesday’s meeting seems to suggest that the House GOP simply does not want comprehensive legislation, and because the Senate’s bill is so comprehensive, any House bill (or combination of bills) that was able to be combined with it would be comprehensive in nature as well. In fact, there are some within the House GOP that are very afraid of any legislation that could end up as part of a comprehensive conference process; some are going so far as to say they will vote down any immigration legislation (even enforcement-only) because it could end up becoming part of comprehensive legislation through the conference process.
However, immigration reform is not doomed. While Wednesday’s meeting seemed to suggest that some House Republicans simply do not want comprehensive immigration reform, it also proved that there are many House members in the party who do want to see immigration reform passed – and many of those believe that in order for immigration reform to happen at all, it has to be comprehensive in nature.
During Wednesday’s meeting, House GOP members such as former VP candidate Paul Ryan extolled the values of immigration reform. Speaker John Boehner also stated that the GOP would pay a huge penalty if House Republicans did not get some sort of immigration legislation passed out of the House, opting to do nothing instead. Likewise, when Steve King of Iowa spoke against the idea of passing any type of immigration legislation at all, he acknowledged that the response was not as affirming to his position as it has been in the past. There are other Republicans in the House who firmly believe that immigration reform must happen (though they disagree on how to implement it), such as Raul Labrador of Idaho and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. While Republicans in the House seem extremely unlikely to vote on the Senate bill as is, or to even construct their own version in one piece, many House Republicans do want to address the issue in a way that deals with all the aspects of the immigration problem – they just don’t want to do it in one bill.
So what’s the bottom line for immigration reform in the Republican-led House? As we see it, the main takeaways are as follows:
- The House does not intend to take up the Senate legislation.
- The House seems to prefer to pass a series of bills, starting with border enforcement and security, rather than dealing with the issue of immigration in one comprehensive bill.
- The House does not feel the same pressure the Senate did to act urgently – it seems any major immigration legislation coming out of the House probably will not be passed until September at the earliest.
- The House does want to address immigration reform; it simply wants to do it in a way that is different from the Senate, and more decidedly Republican.
If you’re wondering what you can practically do to help immigration reform pass, there are two huge things you can do.
One thing you can do is pray. We say this a lot here at G92, but we really believe in prayer, and we know that it is incredibly important to pray for immigration reform that is holistically consistent with God’s heart to pass. If we as Christians are supporting immigration reform for God’s glory, the least we can do is keep in contact with Him about it!
The other important thing you can do is contact your representative. As one Republican senator recently told us, “Prayer is a phone call to God – and it’s much appreciated. Please also call your [legislator].” The single biggest thing that will convince the House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform is the legislators feeling that their constituency supports it. Regardless of whether or not they think immigration reform is the “right thing to do,” if they don’t feel that their constituency wants it, representatives in general will not vote for it. You can contact your representative by calling him/her – it only takes a minute or two, and all you have to do is tell the intern/answering machine that you are a local constituent, and that you want your representative to support immigration reform.
Another, even more powerful way you can contact your representative is by joining us in DC on July 24 to visit your representative and express this desire to him or her/his or her office in person – in fact, if you want to drive to DC for that day, G92 will pay for it! Email [email protected] for more information on that.
For more information on Wednesday’s meeting and the prospects for immigration reform in the House, check out the following links. If you have any thoughts, feel free to email us or to comment below. Stay in touch with G92 by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter in order to stay up-t0-date on the state of immigration reform – and share this story with anyone you know who is interested in keeping up with the issue.
Daniel Watts graduated from Wheaton College in 2012 and is the G92 Coordinator.
Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated.
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