The new Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says the House should act first on comprehensive immigration reform.
"I think since we spent so much time on immigration last time and the House didn't do anything, I want to wait for the House to take some action and review what they've done and then act if I think it's going to be productive for the Senate to act,” Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP senator grilled over DeVos vote during town hall Big Pharma must address high drug prices ObamaCare fix hinges on Medicaid clash in Senate MORE (R-Iowa) told reporters Wednesday, the Des Moines Register reports.
The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013, but it was never taken up by the House. Conservatives opposed the overhaul, saying the focus should be on border security.
President Obama cited the congressional inaction when he issued an executive order to delay deportations for as many as 5 million immigrants in the country illegally.
House GOP lawmakers say they intend to block the president's actions.
Grassley comments came as he laid out his committee's priorities in the new Congress.
He said that he expects Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch to get a hearing at the end of January or beginning of February — but only if the Justice Department gives the committee records it has requested.
The panel has asked for the department’s legal analysis of executive orders issued by the president.
Grassley said that the now-Republican controlled committee would likely engage in increased oversight of the White House.
The new chairman also told reporters that the door is open to criminal justice reforms amid a national debate over alleged inequalities and police tactics.
"There's things that moved along last year in a bipartisan way that I think can possibly move," he told reporters. "Perhaps something dealing with juvenile justice reform."
Grassley is the co-sponsor of a bill to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, which would tighten standards for how the justice system handles minors. Grassley is believed to be particularly interested in new accountability measures built into the bill.
He also said that the committee might be able to move legislation forward to address problems with the law enforcement practice of civil forfeiture — which allows police to keep property they believe could have been used to commit a crime, even if no charges amount from the investigation.