In his video, Kinzinger says, “Now, more than ever, Americans are seeing firsthand how our broken immigration system is really holding our nation back. Through common-sense policies, we have the opportunity to grow our economy, and provide security and well-paying jobs for families all across Illinois and America.”
Kinzinger said he is confident the United States can come together to have the “adult conversations” necessary to approve an immigration overhaul, and he endorsed a path to, at least, legal status for undocumented workers in the United States.
“We must work hard to come to an agreement on how to bring undocumented workers out of the shadows, legally entering the workforce and becoming part of the American melting pot that makes this country great,” Kinzinger said, adding that securing U.S. borders “must be the first step of the reform process.”
Schock had a similar, even stronger message in his video testimonial: He endorsed a pathway to citizenship.
“Quite frankly, I think if a man or a woman likes their American job, wherever they were born, they should be able to keep that job,” he said. “We need a clear path to citizenship for workers who are already here and a fair and efficient on-ramp for those who want to come here.”
Schock said it had been 30 years since Congress had taken any “significant action” to address immigration, seemingly referring to the “Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,” and he noted that some workers have been waiting 10 years for permanent status.
“That’s long enough,” he said.
The news of Kinzinger and Schock making such public declarations of support for an immigration overhaul had Democratic immigration advocates giddy on Tuesday. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California issued a statement that said he was “encouraged” by the words of his colleagues.
“I invite Representatives Schock and Kinzinger to sign the discharge petition to demand a vote on the bi-partisan bill (H.R. 15) to finally fix our broken immigration system,” Becerra said. “It’s long past time for the House to act on comprehensive immigration reform and every day that we delay, thousands of families are torn apart by our broken immigration system. It’s time to turn words into action.”
Becerra ended his statement by saying he hoped Speaker John A. Boehner was listening to the growing number of Democrats and Republicans who support an immigration overhaul.
Former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., is slated to join a number of prominent Illinois Republicans and CEOs on Tuesday to call on GOP leaders to pass a national immigration overhaul. Republican Reps. Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger are also scheduled to give video testimonials on the subject.
The event is hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, and it’s being held at the prestigious Chicago Club in the heart of the Windy City.
Among the guests expected to join Hastert, who has stated his support of an overhaul numerous times: Jim Oberweis, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate against Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.; former Illinois Republican Govs. James Thompson (1977-1991) and Jim Edgar (1991-1999); and a number of CEOs. You can find a full list of expected speakers here.
Updated 6:05 p.m. | President Barack Obama called House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday to implore House Republicans to hold a vote on the Senate-passed immigration overhaul, prompting Cantor to say the president hasn’t learned how to work with Congress.
The Virginia Republican’s retort came in the form of a statement on a day of nasty back and forth between the president, Democrats and House GOP leadership over immigration legislation.
Democrats are holding out hope that their discharge petition on a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill can still work — or at least be used as election-year ammo.
House Democrats held a conference call Tuesday to announce their intention to distribute a memo in the districts of 30 House Republicans who have signaled support for an immigration overhaul previously. Democrats are calling on these Republicans, and others, to “put their pen where their mouth is,” as Colorado Democrat Jared Polis put it, and sign the discharge petition for HR 15, the companion bill to the Senate-passed immigration bill.
The discharge petition for the House bill currently has 191 Democratic signatures, meaning nine Democrats still haven’t signed on to the effort. There are, however, 200 co-sponsors for the bill, including three Republicans: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California. Full story
Speaker John A. Boehner had a few things to say Thursday morning.
During his weekly press conference, which lasted just over 6 minutes, Boehner criticized former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, Lois G. Lerner, and knocked Democrats for playing politics rather than working with Republicans to create jobs. But Boehner most notably and vociferously went after the Obama administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal.
The Ohio Republican also addressed the recent kissing controversy surrounding Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister, saying he had spoken to the freshman Congressman and expects all members to be held to the highest ethical standards.
Boehner said Republicans were “trying to build a consensus” on an Obamacare replacement bill, and were waiting for Democrats to offer an unemployment extension that was paid for and would address the economic problems in the United States.
Boehner’s press conference turned into an outburst, however, when he fielded a question from Fox News’s Chad Pergram regarding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s intimation that he had been treated unfairly because of his race.
Things got heated Tuesday between Rep. Louie Gohmert and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department.
Gohmert, who was questioning the attorney general about releasing documents relating to the Holy Land Foundation’s 2008 conviction of providing financial assistance to Hamas, then suggested contempt was “not a big deal” to Holder.
“You don’t want to go there, buddy,” Holder quickly shot back. “You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. … Don’t ever think that.”
The Texas Republican was quick to respond.
“So we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of [Operation] Fast and Furious where people died … and we can’t get the information to get to the bottom of that, so I don’t need lectures from you about contempt,” he said.
Rep. Steve King has been known to make, from time to time, some controversial remarks about immigration — and his floor speech on Friday was no exception.
Speaking to a nearly empty chamber, the Iowa Republican said the result of an immigration overhaul would be more dead Americans.
“Because there’s not a day that goes by in this country that there isn’t at least one American citizen that dies at the hands of someone who’s unlawfully present in the United States, whether it is an act of homicide or it’s an act of willful manslaughter, whether it’s an [Operating While Intoxicated] in the streets of America, hardly anybody has gone through the last 10 years and doesn’t at least show that up in their local newspaper, if it doesn’t show up in their neighborhood. And so Steve King’s not dead wrong. Let’s keep more Americans alive.”
The decision poured cold water on a behind-the-scenes bipartisan effort, headed up by another California Republican, Rep. Jeff Denham, to include such a provision in the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
Denham said he understands the chairman’s decision and predicted there will be opportunities to resurrect his bill, the ENLIST Act.
McKeon, a co-sponsor of the Denham bill, said the timing wasn’t right.
“I have reached this conclusion without regard to my views on the underlying policy, but because I do not believe the chairman’s mark should be the original venue for this debate,” McKeon said. “Over the past several days I have heard from members on and off the committee on both sides of the issues. They have made sound arguments and raised valid concerns.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has given the White House six pages of recommendations on how the Obama administration might proceed with executive orders to curb deportations of illegal immigrants.
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., a leading advocate for rewriting the nation’s immigration laws on Capitol Hill, told reporters during a conference call Friday that the CHC had “adopted a very strong memo” of suggestions the day before in advance of a scheduled meeting next Wednesday with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Updated 10 a.m. | President Barack Obama discussed the crisis in Ukraine, his visit with Pope Francis and other issues with congressional leaders Thursday evening at the White House, according to a readout from a White House official.
The meeting with Congress’s big four — Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — was called by Obama to discuss his big overseas trip and Ukraine.
The White House readout noted the president’s discussion with Pope Francis of immigration and reducing inequality. UPDATE: A Boehner aide said Friday, however, that there was no discussion of immigration at Thursday’s meeting.
Immigration has stalled in the House, and the leaders have been far apart on the president’s agenda to combat inequality, including a minimum wage hike and an extension of unemployment benefits.
Obama also once again urged the leaders to pass IMF legislation, which Boehner has refused to bring to the House floor, and updated the leaders on nuclear security and Saudi Arabia.
Denham wants an immigration vote in the HASC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Updated 4 p.m. | Rep. Jeff Denham wants a vote on his bill that would allow illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to gain permanent residence in the United States in exchange for military service — and he’s got a plan in the works.
The California Republican is looking for Democrats and Republicans who are members of the House Armed Services Committee to sign on as co-sponsors of his legislation, known as the ENLIST Act, a House GOP aide familiar with Denham’s efforts told CQ Roll Call.
“We are working to gather co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle,” Denham spokeswoman Jordan Langdon said in a statement.
The panel is set to mark up the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act in the weeks ahead and Denham, who is not himself a HASC member, needs to shore up support among committee members who would be willing to vote on the ENLIST Act if it were offered as an amendment to the underlying bill.
Denham also needs a lawmaker on the committee to introduce the amendment, which shouldn’t be a problem: Of the 42 co-sponsors of the ENLIST Act, 11 of them are HASC members, including the chairman, Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.
McKeon, however, has not yet committed to supporting efforts to place the amendment into the bill, either in advance of or during the course of the markup, a Republican committee aide told CQ Roll Call on Thursday.
The aide noted that any member of the panel is free to offer an amendment during the full committee markup so long as the language was “solely the jurisdiction” of the Armed Services Committee. Denham’s bill has only been referred to one committee, Armed Services, and would only change U.S. military code, not immigration law — which falls under the purview of the Judiciary Committee.
Democrats, who recently gathered on the Capitol steps in support of immigration, are using committee hearings to continue to push for the issue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Democrats Wednesday used a meeting intended to advance House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint to force Republicans into a symbolic vote on immigration reform.
Freshman Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., used an all-day markup convened by the Budget committee to force the roll call vote on the Democrats’ immigration legislation. Cardenas offered the text of the immigration bill as an amendment to Ryan’s proposed 2015 budget.
“This is the only amendment that would create jobs and reduce the deficit in one amendment,” Cardenas argued.
Updated, April 2, 1:15 p.m. | In 2001, just shy of a decade in the House, Rep. Xavier Becerra suggested he was more of a policy wonk than a power broker.
“I understand the politics,” he told a Los Angeles Times reporter. “I’m not the best at playing the game.”
Thirteen years later, whether he was being self-effacing or somewhat disingenuous is debatable. But one thing’s become clear in the intervening decade: As a political operator, Becerra’s come into his own.
The House minority’s efforts to take over the floor almost never succeed — and an effort Wednesday by Democrats to force an immigration overhaul onto the floor was no exception.
Democrats touted their efforts to vote against the “previous question” on an unrelated bill to try and force the issue — and highlight the GOP’s failure to act. But no Republicans voted with the Democrats. Full story