The first House Republican to sign on to a comprehensive immigration bill says others will join him shortly.
"While I'm the first Republican to support this legislation I expect others to sign on in the coming days," Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said during a conference call late Monday afternoon.
"I'm going to continue to encourage my colleagues as I have for many months now to support realistic reform," Denham continued, saying he'd talked to "every member" in House Republican leadership about the bill in the last week to stress the need for a vote this year.
The House has been slow to act on immigration reform, failing to make much progress on the high-profile issue following Senate passage of a comprehensive bill over the summer, but since the government shutdown's conclusion there has been renewed discussion of the topic. Denham's weekend announcement that he would support a bill backed by a number of House Democrats is the first sign of movement in months.
Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), a leading Democrat on the bill, said that he'd been in talks with a number of other House Republicans in recent weeks, and that some were likely to sign on soon.
"We could have gotten a few other Republicans but all the other Republicans we talked to asked 'where's Denham on this?'" he said. "We expect a few more Republicans to join in the next few days."
Denham hails from a heavily Hispanic swing district, and Democrats are hopeful they can woo Republicans from other districts to join him in supporting the legislation.
The California Republican said most of his effort has been focused on talking to persuadable members — but that he'd also reached out to hardline opponents to encourage them to moderate their tone on immigrants.
"I've spent some time engaging colleagues who have had some, what I would say are very concerning things to say. And we've had some discussions on that issue."