Diaz-Balart: Immigration reform 'dead' if not passed soon

Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.) warns immigration reform may be dead if the House doesn’t pass legislation by the beginning of 2014. 

“If we don’t get it done by early next year, it’s frankly potentially dead. We have an opportunity to get it done. I think we have a viable chance to get it done, but we are running out of time,” he said Monday night on Fusion, a new joint venture by ABC and Univision.

Diaz-Balart is one of the most vocal House GOP lawmakers in pushing for immigration reform.

President Obama and Democratic lawmakers have said they want legislation passed by the end of the year. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), however, hasn’t brought any measures to the floor, and likely won’t in 2013. 

Few legislative working days remain before the end of the year.

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"I agree with what they said that it's unlikely that it's going to happen in the remaining days this year,” Diaz-Balart added.

Last week, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made that argument to immigration advocates, saying there were just about two to three weeks remaining in this congressional session.

Rep. Luiz Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a champion of immigration reform for the Democrats, also appeared in the Fusion interview, and argued Congress should work through the holidays to get it done.

"I think it's unconscionable that the Congress of the United States is going to go away for Thanksgiving with their families, we're going to go away for Christmas with our families, while our broken immigration system continues to destroy tens of thousands of families,” he said.

Diaz-Balart said he believes the necessary majority of his Republican caucus would support a vote on such a bill. Leadership, on the other hand, won’t bring anything to the floor unless they believe it reaches that threshold.

“I don't like rules that tie the hands of legislators. So I don't like it, period. Now, we have that reality. Therefore we need 117 [members].”