Congress will pass immigration reform this year with or without a comprehensive proposal from the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed Tuesday.
The Democratic leader said she'd prefer that the House pass its own sweeping reform proposal, to be reconciled with the package moving this week through the Senate. But even without a House agreement, the political pressure on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will be too great, she predicted, for the Republicans to block comprehensive reform in the lower chamber.
“I hope we could have a bill and go to conference and reconcile the differences between the two bills,” she added. “But we will have a bill.”
The Senate on Monday easily passed an amendment to strengthen security on the nation's southern border, lending strong momentum to a comprehensive reform package that could pass the upper chamber as early as this week.
What happens in the House, though, is much less certain, as the bipartisan group of lawmakers negotiating a deal has yet to release its agreement. Additionally, Boehner last week erected a new hurdle to the process when he vowed not to consider any immigration bill that lacks the support of most of his conference.
“I don't see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn't have a majority support of Republicans,” Boehner said after a closed-door meeting with his troops.
Freshman Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) warned over the weekend that, if Boehner adheres to his promise to invoke the so-called Hastert rule, the House will not pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.
Pelosi on Tuesday was more optimistic. Noting that 70 percent of Hispanic voters backed President Obama in November, she predicted GOP leaders would come around to passing reforms for the simple reason that they don't won't to lose those voters in perpetuity.
“That sent an eloquent message to them [Republicans] that if they wanted to be relevant as they went down the road, they had to attract Hispanic voters,” she said.
“Now they've had an epiphany on the subject,” she added.