WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid kept up the pressure on the House to take up immigration reform Tuesday by expressing his sympathy for Speaker Boehner and the renegade caucus of House Republicans that continue to defy him.
“He has dissension in his own ranks, we know that,” the Nevada Democrat told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. “I guess I feel sorry for the speaker.”
Reid went on to describe a myriad of issues and legislation dividing the House conservative caucus including U.S. Post Office funding, the online sales tax, the federal budget and the farm bill that was defeated in the House last month — a measure Boehner personally came out in support of.
“Speaker Boehner is trying to decide where he is — pick an issue,” Reid said.
“We’re going to continue to press — the vast majority of the American people, Democrats and Republicans, support what we did. Conservative organizations are running ads now saying, ‘Mr. Boehner, and Republicans, why don’t you do something about this?’” Reid said.
The majority leader’s comments came in response to Boehner’s announcement that the House will not take up the Senate version of the bill, and instead will divide the bill up into separate pieces of legislation for separate votes.
In addition to taking their own approach, the speaker said he would subject any immigration reform legislation to the “Hastert rule” — meaning a majority of Republicans will have to express their support for any bill before it can come to the floor for a vote.
Given the House’s divided track record on major partisan issues this legislative session, a vote on anything resembling the Senate version is unlikely.
House Republicans opposed to immigration reform have said they will reject any immigration bill that includes a “pathway to citizenship,” or what they refer to as amnesty for 11 million immigrants currently living illegally in the U.S. — a core component of the Senate version.
The House GOP has scheduled a private meeting Wednesday to discuss a pathway forward on immigration reform.