By Daniel Strauss - 06/10/13 03:16 PM EDT
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), a member of the bipartisan group working on immigration reform in the House, said that their emerging deal would not be derailed by the departure of Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) from the effort.
"I don't really think it's going to ultimately damage our chances. It would have been better to have him on board, but he said very clearly that he agrees with 95 percent of what was in our agreed plan," Yarmuth said in an interview with Kentucky's cn|2 posted online Monday.
Yarmuth, though, downplayed any substantive split between the seven lawmakers remaining in the group — 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans — and Labrador.
"He actually disagreed with us on, not a matter of substance, but a matter of rhetoric because he wanted to make sure that there were no federal tax payments to what we're calling 'probationary immigrants' under our proposal for the first five years. We agreed with that," Yarmuth said.
"The problem was we wanted to make sure no person avoided medical treatment because of fear of being deported because of inability to pay, and we couldn't quite get the language that was acceptable to both sides. But we both knew that that was not going to be the ultimate language — it was kind of interesting."
Yarmuth also shrugged off the idea that Labrador's departure meant the House group's immigration bill would not win conservative support. Yarmuth said that other conservative members of the group, including Reps. John Carter (R-Texas) and Sam Johnson (R-Texas) would help attract GOP support.
"Raúl Labrador is a Tea Party member," Yarmuth continued. "There was no way he could guarantee that we were going to get the Tea Party support, ultimately, so I don't think that that's going to damage us going forward. We still have a wide range of the political spectrum."
The Senate is expected to begin voting on its bipartisan immigration reform plan this week.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reportedly wants his chamber to vote on an immigration bill before August.