Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Monday predicted that Congress won’t pass legislation overhauling the nation’s immigration system until next year because it will be consumed with federal budget negotiations this fall.
Speaking in downtown Atlanta, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee also predicted the House will pass several immigration bills, unlike the Senate, which passed one comprehensive bill in June.
“Immigration reform is not going to be at the front of the stack,” Barbour predicted about Congress’ focus in the fall. “I do think it will go over into next year.”
Barbour joined former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, in speaking at a Rotary Club of Atlanta meeting moderated by Kevin Riley, editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The former governors were also expected to appear Monday before the Essential Economy Council at Georgia Tech.
Barbour and Rendell are co-chairmen of the Immigration Task Force for the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank that is pushing for a bipartisan consensus on immigration legislation.
Rendell — who agreed with Barbour’s predictions — said he worries how congressional primaries could affect the debate over providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the U.S.
“We have allowed both political parties — they are both guilty as sin — to redistrict their congressional districts in a way that they don’t fear the general election,” he said.
“In the spring of 2014 I fear everybody is going to be looking at that potential primary challenger and they will not be able to do a path to citizenship,” Rendell said. “If they don’t do a path to citizenship, they can bundle all the bills they want — Democrats in the Senate are not going to vote for it. And I don’t think the president would sign it.”
This month, Barbour and Rendell’s task force released a six-page report including recommendations for improving the immigration system. Among other things, the report recommends a “robust worker visa program.” It also calls for ways to measure the effectiveness of the nation’s border security. And it endorses providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Critics say such a route to citizenship would amount to “amnesty” and would encourage more illegal immigration.
In June, the Democratic-led Senate passed comprehensive legislation that would boost border security, allow employers to hire more foreign workers and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
The GOP-controlled House has refused to take up that bill, calling it flawed. House Republican leaders say they will instead consider smaller and more narrowly focused legislation, some of it dealing with immigration enforcement. They have also discussed legislation that would provide legal status to immigrants who were illegally brought to the U.S. as young children.
Enjoy expanded coverage of college football for UGa, Tech and the SEC, with our SEC Insider, covering all Southeastern Conference matchups and articles by AJC staff and regional newspapers that cover the SEC.
White House officials, asserting that the HealthCare.gov website is largely fixed, are under mounting pressure from Democrats and close allies to hold senior-level people accountable for the botched rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement and to determine who should be fired.