By Jonathan Easley - 07/09/13 03:30 PM EDT
Three influential conservative groups on Tuesday urged Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return MORE (R-Ohio) to pursue immigration reform in the House.
But the group leaders told Boehner the House should take up the issue to ensure that a final version of the law adheres more closely to conservative principles.
“The U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that we consider progress,” the letter reads in part.
“But members of the House will correctly pursue their own legislation. This will ensure that any final product has considerable conservative input, and that certain aspects of the Senate bill are markedly improved. Whether a comprehensive bill or a piecemeal approach, we support an immigration reform package that reflects the economic contributions that immigrants make to our country.“
Boehner has said he has no intention of taking up the Senate immigration reform bill because it doesn’t have majority support from his caucus, and on Monday he announced the House would pursue an immigration overhaul of its own.
The Speaker said any bills that come out of the House would also require majority support from his caucus to see a floor vote.
Still, not all conservatives are on board with the House pursuing immigration reform.
The editors of two influential conservative magazines — William Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Rich Lowry of the National Review — on Tuesday shared a byline on an editorial called “Kill the Bill,” in which they argued there’s “no rush to act on immigration” and Republicans eager to address the issue are doing so in a “political panic.”
“If Republicans take the Senate and hold the House in 2014, they will be in a much better position to pass a sensible immigration bill,” the editorial reads in part.
Kristol and Lowry conclude by suggesting the House “not even bother” with the issue because whatever it passes will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.
Holtz-Eakin, Norquist and Cardenas tried to point out areas of the debate where it believes Senate Republicans tried to move the bill in a more conservative direction but were blocked by Democrats in the Senate. They argue these were issues the House now has an opportunity to muscle through.
Their letter singled out amendments from Sens. Mike LeeMike LeeOvernight Cybersecurity: Guccifer plea deal raises questions in Clinton probe Senate panel delays email privacy vote amid concerns Senate amendments could sink email privacy compromise MORE (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would cap low-skill visas, one from Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzMcConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Cruz holds back support for Trump with eye on abortion Trump takes victory lap over rivals' remarks MORE (R-Texas) that would provide more high-skilled visas, and one proposed by Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchTen senators ask FCC to delay box plan An affordable housing solution both parties can get behind Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate MORE (R-Utah) and Marco RubioMarco RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report Rubio: 'Maybe' would run for Senate seat if 'good friend' wasn't Rubio signals support for Trump MORE (R-Fla.) that would require a five-year waiting period for green card holders to apply for federal healthcare benefits.
But perhaps the thorniest issue Boehner faces is the timing for when illegal immigrants would be eligible for provisional legal status on the path to full citizenship.
In the Senate bill, immigrants would become eligible as early as six months after enactment of the law. Many conservatives — including Boehner — want specific border security enhancements fully implemented and measured for their veracity before legalization occurs.
The letter from the conservative groups pressed for “a tough but humane process to earned legal status,” but didn’t break down what that might entail.