Becerra sees House immigration deal within two weeks

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) predicted Tuesday that the House group negotiating comprehensive immigration reform will have a deal by next week.

“There's a high-level of confidence that, in the next week or two … we'll be able to present a complement to the Senate bill," Becerra, one of negotiators, said Tuesday following an immigration event at the National Press Club. “It will be a bipartisan effort.”

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While the Senate has moved swiftly this year in drafting a bipartisan immigration reform deal – a package that hits the chamber floor Tuesday – the House negotiators have struggled to reach an agreement. Those talks hit a particularly rough patch last week when one of the GOP negotiators, Rep. Raúl Labrador (Idaho), left the table over the issue of how to pay for healthcare for the undocumented immigrants benefiting from the bill.

Becerra conceded that Labrador's exit is a “bump in the road,” but predicted the Idaho conservative will still play a key role if the House hopes to pass a bill.

“Congressman Labrador is someone who will influence what we do quite a bit, and I'm hoping that he will be one of those who helps us champion a bipartisan reform [bill],” said Becerra, the chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) said Tuesday that the lower chamber “could have a bill” by year's end. But the Ohio Republican was quick to knock the Senate proposal as too soft.

“Especially in the area of border security and internal enforcement of this system I'm concerned that it doesn't go far enough,” he said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

In the absence of a comprehensive House agreement, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has started to move several smaller immigration bills through his panel. Goodlatte has said his strategy is not intended to replace a comprehensive package, if one eventually surfaces. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders are warning that they likely won't back a piecemeal approach like Goodlatte's

“The only viable bipartisan way to proceed is to do so in a comprehensive nature,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, said Tuesday.

Becerra, for his part, is optimistic that Congress will get a bill to the president this year.

“As we've said all along, you don't start this process to go to the 50-yard line,” he said. “This is the year that we can get it done.”