U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday he will not bring an immigration reform bill to a vote unless it has majority support in his Republican caucus.
Meanwhile, Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. said Tuesday time is running out but it is still possible for Congress to enact federal immigration reform "in a bipartisan manner."
Boehner, who has been mum on how he plans to proceed with immigration reform while the Senate debates the issue, made it clear he will not bring forward a bill that requires Democratic support to pass. The Ohio Republican, who has been under fire from the conservative bloc of his majority, assured members in a closed door meeting he won't divide the caucus on the issue, CNN reported.
"The president's team once talked of its desire for a big bipartisan vote in the Senate; now they're actively working to limit Republican votes in the Senate," a CNN source in the private meeting quoted Boehner as saying. "This town thrives on non-stories. And the biggest non-story of the week is this speculation that I'm somehow planning secretly to pass an immigration bill without a majority of Republicans."
Immigration reform is being debated by the full Senate after clearing a committee vote with bipartisan support. The eight senators, four Democrats and four Republicans, who are responsible for drafting the legislation, have said they're optimistic it will pass the upper chamber with more than 70 votes.
Becerra, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus told reporters on Capitol Hill Democrats "fully expect that the American people should have an opportunity to hear their representatives deal with what is a very broken system when it comes to immigration and get it done and get it resolved."
"The people are so far ahead of the politicians when it comes to immigration reform it's silly," he said. "For years, they've been telling us, move on this; it's not rocket science. Beef up the border, protect the workplace, fix the system when it comes to legal visas and deal in a tough but fair way with all those immigrants who are in this country who are trying to come out of the shadows."
Becerra said Congress could have fixed the immigration system "a while ago, but the important thing is that we do it."
"And so, while the clock continues to tick, so long as we keep at this in a bipartisan manner, I think we'll get there," he said.
Becerra said House Democrats also met Tuesday on what he called a "chilling partisan effort" by the Republican majority to enact federal legislation restricting abortion rights.
"And it's unfortunate that we risk the life of a woman simply to make a political point," he said.
"Rather than debate jobs, bills, we're debating those that we know for a fact are unconstitutional before they even hit the floor of the House of Representatives."
Becerra said Democrats also discussed their strategy on a farm bill.
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