House Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) last week would not rule out passing a comprehensive immigration bill before Congress recesses for the mid-term elections.
When a reporter asked him if it was realistic to assume Congress would not pass such a bill in the limited time left on the legislative calendar, he replied, “That is not fair.”
Boehner said that “conversations about the overall bill, the larger bill, are going to continue,” but suggested alternative methods to secure the border were being planned.
“You will see us, I think, again this month, move to include additional money for fencing on the border, more money for agents on the border and more money for surveillance on the border,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) echoed Boehner’s remarks. Frist said, “Through the Defense appropriation bill and the Homeland Security appropriation bill, we will put heavy resources on making our borders secure. We need to aggressively, through legislation and through appropriations, secure our borders,”
Over the August recess, the Congressional Budget Office quietly released a report that estimated the total cost to taxpayers of the immigration bill that passed the Senate would be $127 billion over the next decade.
When I asked if that was an acceptable cost, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said, “One of the alternative proposals of our colleagues on the Republican side is to put 11 million people in jail.Who wants to pay for that? What does that get? I don’t know specifically how they allocated the costs or their priorities of the bill that may or may not be judged as a good investment, but let me say that the alternative is far more costly.”
Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R.-Ariz.) said passing a bill could be possible if it focused on enforcement alone. “No if, ands or buts” he said, “and certainly no add-ons from the comprehensive camp.”
Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) said he would welcome appropriations funding for border security but that he’d rather see stand-alone legislation. “Mr. Pence is not going to get his Ellis Island kiosks this year,” he said, referring to the immigration plan being pushed by Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) that mandates immigrants visit foreign “Ellis Island Centers” to apply for citizenship.“So why don’t we do what we all agree needs to be done and let’s be done,” said King.“That is to shut off the four million people a year pouring across our Southern border and then take up the debate in January.”
If by November 8 the Southern border is not secured, King advised voters to “look at the voting records of the candidates on the ballot. If they support House enforcement then stand with them because they are for controlling our borders. If they voted against it, brand them with the scarlet letter ‘A’ for amnesty and vote accordingly.”