|Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
or, quite possibly, me
BY GREG SARGENT
November 7 at 1:15 pm
In what will be seen as another blow to immigration reform’s chances, a top pro-reform Republican in the House concedes House Republicans are not going to act on immigration reform this year, and he worries that the window for getting anything done next year is closing fast.
“We have very few days available on the floor in the House, so I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it this year,” GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida told me by phone today.
Diaz-Balart has been deeply involved in bipartisan negotiations over immigration for years now, and is thought to be in touch with House GOP leaders on the issue, so folks involved in the immigration debate pay close attention to what he says.
Worse, Diaz-Balart said that if something were not done early next year — by February or March, before GOP primaries heat up – reform is dead for the foreseeable future.
“I’m hopeful that we can get to it early next year,” he said. “But I am keenly aware that next year, you start running into the election cycle. If we cannot get it done by early next year, then it’s clearly dead. It flatlines.”
Reformers on both sides have been pushing for action this year. Three House Republicans have urged the leadership to allow a vote on something, and House Democrats have introduced their own proposal. GOP leaders have not scheduled a vote on reform this year, but they haven’t ruled one out.
Even some Republicans have ripped the GOP leadership’s foot dragging. GOP Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada recently said it would be “disappointing” if leaders were to “punt the issue until 2014 for political reasons.”
I love listening to politicians denounce politics. What Rep. Heck means is that as the midterm elections approach and voters start paying more attention, insiders like him have less opportunity to put a fast one over on the public.
Now Diaz-Balart says a vote this year isn’t going to happen. This matters because he is one of the key Republicans who is negotiating over a piecemeal proposal to do something about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.
This proposal has yet to be released, but the Tea Leaves suggest it will include probation for the 11 million, enabling them to work legally, contingent on getting E-Verify running (if it isn’t after five years, those on probation would revert to illegal status).
Right. That would happen. Sure.
Immigration reform leader
This idea, which was in the now-defunct House Gang of Seven plan, is seen as one of the few ways Republicans might be able to support reform that deals with the 11 million.