Upton: House could pass a half-dozen immigration bills this year

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he believes the House will be able to pass several immigration bills this year.

"I believe that we can move five or six different pieces of legislation, all bipartisan," he told WMUK in Michigan Wednesday.

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"The current system is broken, doing nothing perpetuates that broken system," he said. "I am a believer that we can get it done."

Upton was not specific on the contents of the bills that could come up. Republicans are exploring ideas to tighten the border, and to give states more authority to enforce immigration laws.

Republicans are also said to be exploring ways to grant legal status for millions of illegal immigrants, something that would appeal to Democrats. But they are expected to stop short of providing a path to citizenship for these residents.

The GOP will hold a retreat in Maryland next week, where they are expected to discuss immigration and possibly finalize a set of principles that will guide their legislative efforts.

Upton predicted passage of several immigration bills after being asked whether 2014 would be a slow year due to the upcoming midterm elections. Upton disagreed with that premise, and said several other issues will be dealt with in Congress, including legislation on the debt ceiling in the coming weeks.

"We can't default," he said on the debt limit, which the government is expected to hit by the end of February. "It'll have to be a bipartisan effort to resolve it."

Upton also said the House should be in a position to pass a conference report on the farm bill in the next week or two.

"I'm hoping we actually get to a farm bill perhaps as early as next week, but certainly in the next week or two," he said. "We're very close."