Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) confirmed on Thursday that she would not object if the Senate passed an immigration overhaul before climate and energy legislation.
“If the Senate is ready with an immigration bill, we don’t want anybody holding it up for any reason,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at her weekly press conference. “Send it to us.”
The Speaker’s comments followed reports on Wednesday that she had told Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidRepublican failure Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral Top GOP senator: 'Tragic mistake' if Democrats try to block Gorsuch MORE (D-Nev.) in a meeting that she would be “fine” with the Senate addressing immigration ahead of a climate and energy package.
While allowing for the possibility that immigration reform might move first, Pelosi emphasized that addressing energy security and climate change were “the flagship issues of her speakership.”
The House passed climate and energy legislation last year, but it has not acted on immigration reform. Pelosi reiterated that an immigration bill “must begin in the Senate,” as did House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in a separate appearance Thursday morning.
Hoyer, asked about reports that immigration had jumped ahead of climate change in the priority line, said: “I don’t know that that’s the case.”
The focus on immigration reform comes as Hispanic leaders have increased pressure on the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress to make good on their pledge to pass a comprehensive bill. One such leader, Rep. Luis GutierrezLuis GutierrezThe Democratic Party playbook must change if liberals are to win the future Army vet slated for deportation over drug charges Congressman handcuffed by police after refusing to leave ICE office MORE (D-Ill.), told The Hill that he might urge Latino voters to stay home in November if Democrats did not push the issue.
Reid has vowed to bring up immigration reform this year.
Hoyer, speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, said he thought it would be difficult for the Senate to cobble together the votes to pass either comprehensive immigration reform or a climate and energy bill. He noted that one longtime champion of immigration reform, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMcCain responds to North Korean criticism to calling Kim Jong-un 'crazy fat kid' Overnight Finance: Dems seek probe of acting SEC chief | Defense hawks say they won't back short-term funding | Senate seen as start point for Trump infrastructure plan | Dems want more money for IRS Overnight Defense: Pentagon considers more troops for Afghanistan | McCain, Graham won't back short-term funding | GOP defends Trump rules of engagement MORE (R-Ariz.), has now backed away from the issue in the midst of a tough GOP primary fight for reelection.
Hoyer was asked if Democrats had to pass an immigration bill this year in order to mobilize Latino voters in the fall. He would not go that far. “It certainly matters that we acknowledge this is an important issue that we ought to deal with, and that’s what we’ve done,” he said.
Whether the House could pass an immigration bill even if it passed the Senate is unclear. Asked if she could get the votes on immigration, Pelosi replied, “I believe so.”
This story was updated at 12:05 p.m.