By Alexander Bolton - 06/18/13 07:26 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the House will face enormous pressure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Reid said he’s told the four Democrats in the bipartisan group that drafted the Senate bill to ignore Boehner’s statements and to not worry about the House.
His counsel is that they should just focus on the Senate, and the House will take care of itself. “I have talked to my four Democrats [on] the Gang of Eight, and I have told them, ‘Concentrate on the Senate. Don’t, at this stage, worry about what’s going to happen in the House,’” Reid told reporters Tuesday.
Reid’s remarks were in response to comments Boehner made earlier on Tuesday that he will not bring an immigration reform bill to the House floor that does not have support from a majority of the Republican conference.
“I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have the majority support of Republicans,” Boehner said Tuesday.
Boehner’s remarks, also made during a private meeting of the GOP conference, were intended to reassure his members that a Senate bill would not be crammed through the House with Democratic and Republican votes.
Republicans have been far more divided on immigration reform than Democrats. Some Republicans argue the party needs to embrace a bill because of the 2012 presidential election, in which President Obama won more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Reid said he is unconcerned with internal House Republican politics at this stage of the debate and held back from engaging in a rhetorical clash with Boehner.
“I’m only worried about what’s going to happen here, and I’m not going to say how I really feel about it,” he said of Boehner’s remarks.
The Senate is debating its own immigration bill, and Reid earlier on Tuesday warned he would file cloture on the legislation no later than Monday.
Boehner, until this week, had been vague about whether he would bring a comprehensive immigration reform bill and pass it with a minority of Republican votes.
Republican members of the Gang of Eight, the primary authors of the Senate bill, have pushed Democrats to make changes that would pick up 15 to 20 Republican votes for the bill in the upper chamber. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted on Sunday that the Senate bill would pass with more than 70 votes.
“I think we are going to get plus 70 votes,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’ve never been more optimistic about it,” he added.