Boehner: House 'must act' on immigration

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said the House would act on immigration reform even if a faltering bipartisan group fails to complete a legislative proposal.

The group of eight Republicans and Democrats plans to meet tonight for perhaps the final time as it seeks to break an impasse that has prevented an agreement after more than four years of secretive negotiations.

“I am concerned that the bipartisan group has been unable to wrap up their work,” Boehner said at a Capitol news conference. “I know that there are a couple issues that have come up, and I continue to believe that the House needs to deal with this, and the House needs to work its will.”

Aides say that the Speaker last week urged the four Republican members of the group to come out with a proposal even if Democrats did not sign on. He made the push out of concern that the effort was taking too long in light of the progress that the Senate has made on its own bipartisan bill, which is now moving through a committee mark-up.

Boehner said no decisions had been made on a fallback plan.

“We’ll let you know when we decide,” he said. “I’ve made it clear that I think the House must act on this, and I think we should do so in a responsible way.”

The Speaker’s comments are also a signal that the House is unlikely to simply take up legislation that passes the Senate, as some Democrats hope. The leadership wants to have the House pass its own bill to increase its leverage in a potential conference committee with the Senate. 

The House Judiciary Committee has introduced individual pieces of immigration reform legislation, and Republican members of the bipartisan group have also suggested they may introduce a larger bill even if Democrats in the group don’t sign on.