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Chambers prepare to butt heads on immigration

4:55 PM, Jun 28, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA-Republican leaders in the House of Representatives will meet next month to decide how to make the next move after the Senate passed a sweeping immigration overhaul this week.

Already GOP members of Congress are trying to diminish expectations that they'll pick up the Senate bill and run with it, citing concerns over border security.

"I don't think the Senate bill could pass the House at this point," said Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado). "I think reasonable people can disagree on what is going to be an effective border security policy. I think the House has a stronger step forward when it comes to doing just that."

But supporters of the Senate bill say that opposing the measure on the grounds of border security is going to be seen as playing politics with the issue.

The bill takes money paid by the immigrants and buys a lot more border security, doubling the number of agents on the border and building hundreds of miles of new border fence.

"Do you think [Sens.] John McCain and Jeff Flake, Republicans remember, can go home to Arizona having written, not just voted for, but written an immigration bill, that does not secure our borders," asked Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), a member of the gang of eight, which authored the bill. "That was their number one priority."

Expect supporters of the bill to keep up the pressure in the coming weeks.

"To our agriculture community, to our high tech community, to our ski resorts, I mean there's almost not a segment of our economy in this country that's not touched in a beneficial way, for once, by this legislation," said Bennet. "I think [House Republicans] are going to have a lot of explaining to do to people for whom this is important business if they can't get it done."

House Speaker John Boehner says he and fellow GOP leaders will be meeting to decide their next move on July 10.

The Senate bill does include a pathway to citizenship, which some Republicans decry as amnesty for people here illegally.

It's a 13-year-long pathway with criminal background checks and some financial penalties, but it's a pathway nonetheless.

Speaker Boehner has promised he'll only bring up a bill if it has enough votes to pass without needing support from House Democrats.

Gardner defended that method of legislative housekeeping.

"I don't think [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid would have allowed a bill to go to the Senate that just had twenty Senators from his own party on the floor," said Gardner.

For all the fanfare over the Senate vote, at this point, there's no pathway in sight for the bill to actually become law.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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