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Boehner Leaves Immigration Bill Future Murky

House speaker nixes House action on Senate's immigration reform bill

Published on: Nov 14, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday quashed the hopes of immigration reform proponents, confirming in a press conference that his chamber would not take up the immigration bill offered by the Senate earlier this year.

"The idea that we're going to take up a 1300-page bill that no one had ever read – which is what the Senate did – is not going to happen," the Ohio Republican said. "We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."

The Senate's bill was deemed unpalatable for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Boehner, who maintained earlier this year that it lacks appropriate border security and law enforcement measures to be considered.

House speaker nixes House action on Senates immigration reform bill
House speaker nixes House action on Senate's immigration reform bill

While the declaration that the Senate's bill won't be conferenced isn't necessarily a surprise – Boehner had previously said the House would not "take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes" – rumors still swirled that smaller bills, instead of one larger bill, could pass.

"I want us to deal with this issue, but I want to deal with in in a common-sense, step-by-step way," Boehner said, echoing statements he and other legislators have previously made, though not indicating a timeline.

Meanwhile, as five committee-passed immigration efforts go unnoticed in the House – one being Goodlatte's own plan for an ag guestworker program – Boehner said Goodlatte is now in the process of collecting bipartisan "principles" that might drive the House's immigration reform bill in the future.

While the American Farm Bureau Federation's Director of Congressional Relations Kristi Boswell says Boehner's announcement is "disappointing," she noted that AFBF respects the House's process, and understands that there's still hope for a bipartisan bill.

"We are working with (Goodlatte) and making sure that when this moves, there is an agriculture solution that's moving with it," Boswell noted, adding that the House's apparent plan to pass immigration reform in a piece-by-piece fashion may be what is able to garner the most support.

But, she insists, even with a speedbump in the way, AFBF will be keeping the pressure on legislators to get the work done.

"Our farmers out there feel the need for labor reform every day," she said. "I think the best thing we can do is get farmers out there talking to Congress and telling them why this is so important."

"We aren't losing hope," she said.