Ariz. Republican Predicts House Won't Act on Immigration Bill

Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.) told a group of conservative bloggers yesterday that the House was unlikely to act on any Senate-passed version of immigration reform legislation.

“It’s unlikely conferees will be appointed,” Flake told the 15 bloggers, who gather weekly on Capitol Hill to meet and strategize. “If conferees are appointed, there’s a better chance we’ll have a bill.”

Flake, a supporter of the McCain-Kennedy approach to immigration, made the remarks after the Washington Post reported that Speaker Dennis Hastert wouldn’t even consider a bill that did not have the support of the “majority of the majority.” In order for a bill to reach President Bush’s desk, the House and Senate must work out their differences in a conference committee. Hastert, as Flake indicated, could refuse to appointconferees.

Despite his support for a guest-worker plan that has rankled conservatives, including those at HUMAN EVENTS, Flake sought to use yesterday’s meeting to stress the need for robust border security and a greater crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants.

Flake’s purpose for addressing the group was actually not immigration reform, but instead his effort to target earmarks in House legislation. He said he planned to start with the agriculture bill, which is currently being debated.

Flake acknowledged he had little chance of removing even a few of the hundreds of earmarks in the bill, but he gave credit to Majority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio)—himself a critic of earmarks—for at least being supportive of conservatives’ desire to change the way business is done in the House.