Wednesday will mark the first bicameral discussion on immigration reform , according to National Journal, in which the House will host several influential Republican senators for a closed-door policy summit featuring disparate views on the issue. While the Republican Study Committee has previously invited senators to attend House meetings, Wednesday’s forum will the “first time in recent memory that multiple senators” attend to discuss and debate the merits of a legislative agenda.
The event will be moderated by RSC chairman Steve Scalise. By inviting both advocates and opponents to the meeting suggests Scalise’s strategy of getting “out in front of divisive policy fights before they spring up unexpectedly”… and also reflects the overall lack of consensus among conservatives on how to approach immigration reform.
Three senators have confirmed their attendance: Florida’s Marco Rubio, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Mike Lee of Utah. All three “rode tea-party support to 2010 victories” but have widely different viewpoints on immigration. Rubio supports providing an eventual pathway to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants prior to installing border-security triggers, but acknowledges that the Senate bill must be improved; Paul supports the idea of eventually legalizing those who are living the US illegally as long as they aren’t treated more favorably than those who have been waiting in line; and Lee is opposed to a pathway to citizenship or special treatment for ag workers.
National Journal compares Wednesday’s hearing to a court proceeding in which House conservatives will be exposed to intensive lobbying efforts from like-minded Senate colleagues who wish to gain support for their policy positions.
The House panel working on an immigration panel includes four Republicans and for Democrats and has been attempting to craft a comprehensive proposal that is independent of the Senate version which was introduced in mid-April. But unlike the Democrat-controlled Senate, the House will make a harder sell for Rubio’s plan, and is likely to compromise on a piecemeal approach rather than a comprehensive bill.
Rubio will likely look to Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho to forward their like-minded approach. Labrador, also a “young, media-savvy Latino member with established conservative credentials” is looking to tackle border security, documentation, and legalization in one package.
Ultimately, the House-backed proposal will be to the right of the Senate package, and differences between the bills will be debated in conference committee.