GOP Senator: House Could Pass Immigration Overhaul Today If Given Vote

PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) speaks to members of the media on unemployment insurance on January 14, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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Republican Sen. Dean Heller said this week that the House could pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill if it was put to a vote.

The Nevada lawmaker, who voted for the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill last year, made his prediction in front of reform advocates on Wednesday. Here’s more from the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Heller, speaking to an immigration forum sponsored by “Mi Familia Vota,” the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Justice for Immigrants and others, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno, said the entire Nevada delegation in the House would vote for the measure in a floor vote.

“To get something done by the end of the year, I’m optimistic. I’m optimistic,” Heller told the crowd in the cafeteria at Pine Middle School in Reno. “Their (House) leadership is optimistic. They’ve got some push back. But I will tell you this in closing: I believe as I stand in front of you today, if you put comprehensive immigration reform on the floor of the House of Representative, it would pass today.”

Heller’s comments were greeted with loud applause.

“And I will make this bold prediction,” Heller continued. “That when and if this bill gets to the House floor, I do believe it will pass and every member of our House delegation will vote for it.”

Heller’s argument echoes that of reform backers: Democrats and a small cadre of Republicans could pass a sweeping immigration-reform bill like the Senate’s if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would allow a vote.

Yet Boehner has thrown cold water on the chances of a vote on immigration reform legislation this year, saying that his party’s rank and file doesn’t trust President Obama to enforce the laws.

GOP leaders have released a set of principles on immigration reform, which backs legal status of undocumented immigrants, and some members have put forth smaller bills, dealing with issues like tech visas and border security.

House Democrats have put forth an immigration bill that’s very similar to the Senate proposal Heller and 13 other GOP senators voted for. A small handful of House Republicans have endorsed that bill.

But Boehner has repeatedly said he won’t allow a vote on an immigration bill without majority support from Republicans, who can’t seem to agree on anything when it comes to immigration.

So, while a majority might very well exist in the House to pass a comprehensive reform package, don’t count on a vote this year if GOP leaders maintain their current stance.

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