Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicts that the House Speaker John Boehner will “cave in” on immigration reform and that a bill could pass Congress within the next year.
“I think there’s going to be so much pressure on the House that they’ll have to pass it,” the Nevada Democrat said during an interview with the Las Vegas Sun.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform package in June, but so far the House has failed to pass any immigration bills. Reid said that will change because the electoral consequences of inaction are too high for Republicans.
Reid acknowledged that a vast majority of GOP lawmakers represent districts with tiny numbers of non-white voters and “don’t care” about passing immigration reform. But he said there is a growing number of House Republicans “who do care.”
“If the Republicans ever want to elect a Republican president again, they’re going to have to get right with the Hispanic and Asian community who by more than 70 percent voted for [President Barack] Obama last time,” he said.
Still, immigration reform faces a tough path to passage in the House. Boehner has said he won’t negotiate over the bill the Senate passed, a move that turned him into a whipping boy of reform backers. Reid chastised Boehner in an interview with Fusion last month, accusing him of sending mixed messages regarding how he’ll deal with immigration.
“To do this intellectual yoga drill where nobody knows what he's talking about is like some of the yoga moves I've tried and can't do,” he said.
Boehner has insisted that the issue is “absolutely not” dead. Republican leaders prefer to address the issue through smaller pieces of legislation. But so far, no floor votes have been taken on those bills.
But pro-reform advocates were encouraged on Tuesday when Boehner’s office announced the hire of Rebecca Tallent as an immigration policy aide. Tallent worked on Sen. John McCain’s staff when the Arizona Republican helped push comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 and 2007.
“This is an issue that isn’t going to go away,” Reid told the Sun. “It’s here. We have 11 million people here who are not going to be sent back to their country of origin. They can’t do that. They can’t do it fiscally. They can’t do it physically. It’s nearly impossible.”
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.