GOP Congressman Slams Leaders on Immigration Stalemate

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A House Republican lawmaker ripped his own party’s leaders on Friday amid reports they would not move on immigration legislation this year.

Rep. Joe Heck, who represents a Las Vegas-area district, said in a statement that it’s “very disappointing” House Republican leaders “may punt the issue until 2014 for political reasons.”

“It’s extremely frustrating and very disappointing to hear reports that the House does not plan on voting on immigration reform legislation this year,” he said. “This is yet another example of the leadership vacuum in Washington that rightly has so many people frustrated with this dysfunctional Congress.”

Heck’s statement might seem uncharacteristic because he does not represent the typical, homogenous Republican district. Nevada’s third congressional district is almost 15 percent Latino and 12 percent Asian-American. President Obama won it in each of the last two elections.

The Senate passed a broad immigration overhaul in June, but GOP leaders called that proposal dead on arrival in the House. House Republicans have put forth a series of smaller immigration bills, but none has received a vote before the full House.

“There are bills that have passed committee that could be brought to the floor next week,” Heck said. “The American people, and my constituents, expect us to tackle these important issues, come together, and get something done for the good of the country.”

Contrary to reports that leadership won’t hold votes, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said this week he hopes to see immigration “addressed” this year.

“I still think immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed. And I’m hopeful,” he said.

Heck has endorsed the pathway to citizenship contained in the Senate’s bill, which would require undocumented immigrants to pass a background check, pay fines and back taxes, learn English, and wait 13 years before earning full citizenship.

Heck’s rebuke of leadership comes days before a coalition of right-leaning groups plan to descend on Washington to press House Republicans to pass an immigration overhaul. Organizers say 600 leaders from 120 congressional districts are expected to participate.