By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Democrats lost the first major immigration fight of the year Wednesday after Republicans — voting in unison in the House Budget Committee — rejected an effort to legalize illegal immigrants as part of the 2015 budget.
Democratic leaders have said repeatedly that a bill would pass if it reaches the House floor, but the committee tally suggests it may not and that Republicans are maintaining some unity on the issue.
Even Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who has led Republicans’ outreach to Hispanic voters on immigration, voted against the Democrats’ proposal. He said the time wasn’t ripe and that the version Democrats offered, which closely tracked the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill from last year, was flawed.
“We don’t support the Senate bill. The Senate bill is over 1,000 pages. We don’t like this way of legislating to begin with,” Mr. Ryan said.
Democrats said the vote was likely the only chance Republicans will have to show that they are serious about immigration reform and that voters now will have a specific vote by which to judge the GOP.
“Those who vote yes or no will have their names recorded on this vote,” said Rep. Tony Cardenas, California Democrat, who demanded the vote.
He made a particular appeal to Mr. Ryan, who has been outspoken in promising that Republicans would pass a bill legalizing illegal immigrants.
“You’ve spoken on reform. I ask you to support my amendment,” Mr. Cardenas told him.
But Mr. Ryan and fellow Republicans defeated the effort on a 21-15 party-line vote. Even vulnerable Republican lawmakers voted against the proposal.
Democrats have said a floor vote could garner enough of the 20 or so Republicans needed to pass the bill. Republican leaders have said the votes aren’t there, and the committee action suggests they may be correct.
Immigration has been one of the thorniest issues on Capitol Hill for more than a decade.
President George W. Bush’s repeated efforts to legalize illegal immigrants failed, and they angered many fellow Republicans.
After Hispanics deserted the GOP in the 2012 elections, some Republicans had a change of heart and embraced legalization. That helped push a bill through the Senate on a bipartisan 68-32 vote last year, and spurred House Republican leaders to talk about moving legislation through their chamber.