Yarmuth says House immigration bill remains the best chance at reform while Senate proposal is DOA

06/10/2013 09:24 AM

As the U.S. House and Senate prepare to swap immigration reform packages, Kentucky’s Democratic congressman says the House version has the best chance to become law even after a key Republican has dropped out of the effort to craft the bill.

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, last week walked away from the House “gang of eight” after complaining that the proposed legislation wasn’t strong enough on blocking health benefits for newly legalized immigrants.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville — also a member of that “gang of eight” — said losing Labrador hurts. But he said he was confident Labrador’s departure wouldn’t affect the legislation’s path.

“I don’t really think it’s gong to ultimately damage our chances. It would have been better to have him on board. He has said very clearly that he agrees with 95 percent of what was in our agreed plan,” Yarmuth said. “He actually disagreed with us not on a matter of substance but on a matter of almost rhetoric.”

Yarmuth said that Labrador, who is a Tea Party conservative, couldn’t guarantee the the support of tea party colleagues in the House.

The bi-partisan coalition that is now the gang of seven needs to achieve buy-in from Republicans in the House. And the issue of healthcare could be a hurdle.

“The problem was we wanted to make sure that no person either avoided necessary medical treatment because of fear of being deported because of inability to pay, and we couldn’t quite get the language that was acceptable to both sides, but we both knew that that was not going to be the language” Yarmuth said.

Debate in the Senate will begin on the Senate’s “gang of eight” version of immigration reform this week. But Yarmuth predicted that the House will not consider the bill the upper chamber is proposing.

“The Senate’s going to pass a bill. I assume they are. It’s not going to be the bill that’s considered in the House. It’s DOA — dead on arrival — in the House. But we will have our own bill, and then a conference will be appointed which is the way historically these things have been done, and the differences will be ironed out,” Yarmuth said (2:20). “We’ll have a bill a wide range of people will be able to support, maybe the extremes wont be able to support it, but there will still be plenty of votes for the final product.”


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