Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions called House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that he would not agree to a conference committee with the Senate-passed immigration bill a “positive development,” but warned against continued big money lobbying for reform.
“House Republicans are resisting an influence campaign and standing for the interests of the American people,” Sessions, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Senate immigration bill, said in a Wednesday statement.
Wednesday, Boehner told reporters that House Republicans would not conference with the Senate bill, a move that basically kills this year’s prospects for comprehensive immigration reform.
“We’ve made it clear that we’re going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration,” Boehner said. “The idea that we’re going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House.”
And while Boehner’s words effectively killed immigration reform advocates’ hopes for a comprehensive package this year, Sessions warned that the activists and special interests “are well-financed and very powerful.”
The Alabama senator explained that the Senate bill’s “fatal flaw” was that it catered to the “special interests at the expense of the national interest.”
“Arguably the single most destructive feature of the Senate’s immigration bill was the massive permanent surge in low-skill immigration that would reduce wages and increase unemployment,” he said. “The White House and Senate Democrats shamelessly coordinated with a small cadre of CEOs to pressure House Republicans to yield.”
He further called for Republicans to kick the special interests to the curb and work on behalf of Americans, particularly low-wage earners.
“It’s time for Republicans to tell these special interests to get lost and to be the one party that will defend the interests of the millions of low-wage Americans looking for better jobs and better wages,” he said. “This is the moment for a vision to emerge centered on growth and prosperity for working Americans—not just the powerful and well-connected.”