Politics

Boehner Promises No Amnesty Bill This Year

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Speaker of the House John Boehner promised July 29 that the House would reject the renewed effort by Democrats and businesses to pass their so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” bill, which includes an amnesty and increased inflow of immigrants and guest-workers.

“The House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion,” he said in a statement posted on his website, Speaker.gov.

The statement came shortly after he and his top allies introduced a package of legislation that would make a minor change to a 2008 law and add funding to deal with the flow of Central American migrants across the Texas border.

The GOP is proposing the change because the 2008 law is being blamed by President Barack Obama for his increasingly unpopular decision to allow at least 50,000 Central American migrants enter the country and file for Green Cards in immigration courts.

But many conservative legislators fear Boehner’s legislation-and-funding package is a high-risk fix, and they may be able to defeat it during the July 31 vote if Democrats don’t back the GOP plan.

The conservative legislators’ opposition is being backed up by a variety of conservative groups, who are calling and lobbying legislators to block the high-risk changes to the 2008 bill. They include groups such as NumbersUSA, Americans for Legal Immigration and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. (RELATED: GOP Leaders Revive Democrats’ Amnesty Hopes)

Conservatives say the 2008 law is being highlighted by the White House to distract the media from Obama’s refusal to enforce laws against the growing inflow of Central American adult, teenage and child border-crossers.

Conservatives also argue that the 2008 law is a convenient scapegoat for Democratic legislators who don’t want to be blamed by voters for Obama’s unpopular policy, and who also don’t want to toughen border enforcement.

Worse, say conservatives, any House vote to change the 2008 law creates the risk that Boehner would subsequently schedule a joint House and Senate conference where Democratic and GOP legislators could expand the slight changes to the 2008 law into a massive rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws.

Those changes could include an amnesty for at least 11 million illegals, as well as increases to the current inflow of roughly two million immigrants and guest-workers per year. Roughly 4 million Americans enter the workforce each year.

The Senate bill is unpopular among swing voters and very unpopular among GOP voters. In June, Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated by an novice politician, Dave Brat, who slammed the leadership’s support for immigration-boosting laws that reduce wages and boost profits.

Those conservatives’ fears were validated shortly after the House leadership introduced its package on the morning of July 29: Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrats’ Senate leader in the Senate, said Boehner’s package is “an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform.”

Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the chief architect of the Senate immigration rewrite, hinted he might use the Boehner bill to revive his Senate rewrite: “I want to see what the House does first,” he said when asked to comment about the Boehner plan. ”Let’s see if they can get a bill through.”

Advocates for greater immigration also thanked Boehner for his package. It doesn’t contain “the changes we want, but you are providing a vehicle for the changes we do want,” said America’s Voice, a leading immigration-boosting group. “Thank you for opening the door to comprehensive immigration reform this year.”

But Boehner’s afternoon message was designed to muffle conservatives’ worries about a conference.

The GOP will not “accept any attempt to add any other comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act, to the House’s targeted legislation, which is meant to fix the actual problems causing the border crisis,” Boehner said.

Boehner also slammed the White House in his statement.

“While the White House has abandoned all pretense of governing and the Senate is doing almost nothing to address our struggling economy, Republicans remain committed to addressing the American people’s priorities, and that includes passing a responsible bill this week to help secure our border and return these children safely to their home countries,:” he said.

But conservatives also slammed Boehner for not doing enough to block a pending move by Obama to roll back enforcement of immigration law, and to provide work permits to millions of illegal immigrants.

Republican Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn proposed appropriations language that would bar Obama from spending any money to provide work permits to illegal immigrants.

But Boehner and the rest of the leadership team excluded her measure from the package.

“Congress must speak out… [and] must use its spending power to stop the president’s executive amnesty,” said a July 29 statement from Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions.

“The House leaders’ border package includes no language on executive actions [and] is surrender to a lawless president… [and] a submission to the subordination of congressional power,” said Sessions.

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