Immigration protesters gather Tuesday in the Hart Senate Office Building. Boehner told the Republican Conference on Tuesday that he doesn’t “see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have a majority support of Republicans.”
Democratic leaders meanwhile figure Boehner will be under enormous pressure to act once the Senate moves its bill — regardless of the Hastert rule.
“No matter what he has said, there’s going to be significant national pressure on the House to do something on immigration,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer noted that Republican leaders frequently say they will “let the House work its will.”
“They either mean it or they don’t mean it, they’re either hypocrites or they’re not,” the Maryland Democrat said. “They want the House to work its will [and] the only way to have the House work its will is to have matters put on the floor for consideration and votes.”
“This debunks the idea that immigration reform is anything other than a boon to our economy, and robs the bill’s opponents of one of their last remaining arguments,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the gang of eight.
Markup Splits Parties
A markup in the House Judiciary Committee on legislation that would crack down on illegal immigration — and make illegal immigrants criminals subject to prison time — sparked an outcry from Democrats.
The panel backed a provision by Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., that would make being an illegal immigrant a crime punishable by up to six months in prison on a first offense. Other provisions considered by the committee would empower state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws.
Outside the markup, Democrats led by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., held a news conference flanked by a few dozen Latino youths wearing caps and gowns and holding signs reading “I Am Not A Criminal” and “American Dreamer.”
“Don’t allow the partisan bickering and fighting, the debate on Benghazi and the IRS, the debate over the AP and whether we should be in Syria or not, to somehow sneak its way into the well that we have kept so clean . . . when it comes to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform,” said Gutierrez, who is part of a bipartisan group of seven House members working to come up with draft legislation.
Still, Gutierrez said he and the 25 members — all Democrats — of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are also looking forward to their meeting Wednesday with Boehner, to discuss their vision of the immigration rewrite, an event he described as “highly unusual.”
The tense markup itself was interrupted by roughly 20 protesters standing and chanting “shame, shame, more of the same.”
Members of the group wore sheets of paper pinned to their shirts bearing the phrase “Remember November,” seemingly a nod to the 2012 presidential election in which President Barack Obama handily won the Hispanic vote.
The protesters were escorted from the room by committee staff and the Capitol Police but were met with cheers as they filed into the hallway. And the group could still be heard outside the room saying, “Si, se puede” and the English translation, “Yes, we can,” prompting Goodlatte to briefly suspend committee activity.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.