House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteHouse panel to hold hearing on foreign surveillance law A guide to the committees: House Obama-era cash for cronies under House fire MORE (R-Va.) will play a major role in crafting immigration and gun legislation in the 113th Congress.
His panel is scheduled to hold a hearing on immigration Tuesday. This is the first of what he tells The Hill will be a “long series of hearings” on the issue.
Some Democrats have predicted the House would drag its feet on immigration this year.
The White House is clearly concerned about this possibility. In his speech on immigration last week, President Obama said, “We can’t allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We’ve been debating this a very long time.”
Goodlatte, however, is not committing to a timetable: “We want to get it done quickly, but getting it right trumps that.”
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' MORE (R-Ohio) has pledged to give his committee chairmen more power by vowing to move legislation through “regular order.”
Goodlatte will face significant challenges to move immigration reform through his committee. He will need to appease GOP members who want strong border controls and are skeptical of any proposal that offers a pathway to citizenship. This group includes Reps. Lamar Smith (Texas), Steve King (Iowa) and Louie GohmertLouie GohmertGiffords's husband to GOP rep: Don't 'hide behind' my wife's shooting to avoid town halls Giffords to lawmakers avoiding town halls: 'Have some courage' GOP rep invokes Giffords shooting as reason not to hold town hall MORE (Texas).
The Judiciary Committee chairman is willing to compromise, but he is not committed to a pathway to citizenship. He has previously criticized that policy prescription as “amnesty.”
Goodlatte is also the principal House Republican on the issue of reducing gun violence. The 60-year-old legislator is a strong-gun rights advocate, with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.
In a recent interview on C-SPAN, he opposed reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, while adding that he wants to keep guns away from mentally ill people.
It is likely that his bills on immigration and gun control will spark opposition from the White House. But the Obama administration needs to work with Goodlatte to get legislation through the House.