With the federal government back in business, President Obama wants to get immigration reform back on the front burner. But House Republicans, who say the president negotiated in “bad faith” on the debt crisis, aren’t eager to go head-to-head on such a controversial issue again so soon.
Senate Democrats stressed momentum in hammering out a comprehensive immigration bill by July. But the House has never had a timetable for dealing with the issue, and House Speaker John Boehner has said all along that the House will not take up the Senate bill, but come up with its own.
“If the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear them. Let’s start the negotiations,” the president said recently. “This can and should get done by the end of this year.”
But as one GOP leadership aide put it:
“The president’s actions and attitude over the past couple of weeks have certainly poisoned the well and made it harder to work together on any issue.”
The Senate bill would increase the yearly cap on H-1Bs — something the tech industry has lobbied hard for – add a special class of visas for entrepreneurs and change the requirements companies must meet in order to sponsor an H-1B worker.
But the sweeping bill also tackles a range of issues such as border security and a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants here illegally. The House has preferred piecemeal legislation, rather than what some have dubbed the massive, overarching Obamacare approach.
And that proposed patch to citizenship for illegal immigrants is a particular sticking point among conservatives who say it’s unfair to those who came here legally.
Now Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, once a member of a bipartisan House group seeking middle ground on immigration, told the Huffington Post last week that passing even small immigration bills in the House is now “not worth doing.”