Whip Hoyer Urges House Republicans To Act This Year On Immigration Reform Legislation in Colloquy

For Immediate Release:

November 18, 2013

Contact:

Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) urged House Republicans to bring forward immigration reform legislation this year during a colloquy with Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Friday. Below is an excerpt from the colloquy and a link to the video: 

Click here to watch the video.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer: “Another issue which you did not mention, Mr. Leader, is immigration. As you know, this issue passed very handily through the United States Senate on a vote of 68-32, and I'm very hopeful that we could move this legislation. … I think the Senate bill, or a variation of the Senate bill, would pass. We've introduced an alternative in which we have Republican co-sponsorship, as the gentleman knows, H.R. 15, which is a comprehensive immigration bill which incorporates the security provision that was adopted unanimously in this House by the Republican-led Homeland Security Committee. So we believe it has bipartisan components to it, and the balance of the bill had bipartisan support in the United States Senate. The gentleman knows, you passed a number of bills out of your committees … and they were passed, of course, with partisan votes. We do not believe these bills are bills that we would support, but we're wondering whether any of them are going to be brought to the Floor.”

Majority Leader Eric Cantor: “We don't support the Senate bill and the Speaker, I think, spoke out on that this week. Our Members don't support the Senate bill and we've said all along, Chairman Goodlatte and his committee are going about a much more deliberate process, a step-by-step approach to try to address the problems with the broken immigration system. I do think, I would tell the gentleman, there's consensus on our side of the aisle as well as his that the system is broken and needs to be fixed. Certainly there are differences on how to go about doing that, but we remain committed, as does the Chairman, in trying to move, in a step-by-step manner, to address the various issues involved with immigration reform, but not to do it the way the Senate did…”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer: “[B]ut let me ask you about H.R. [2131], which is Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act.  As the gentleman knows, a lot of people [are] very interested in this issue. This would eliminate the diversity visa program, transfer 55,000 green cards available under that program to a new STEM program that employers can use to hire foreign workers with advanced STEM degrees - masters degrees, Ph.Ds, etc. - from universities.  It was being marked up, and I understand, passed out [of the Committee on a vote of] 20-14, again, with an overwhelming Republicans vote, if not unanimous vote. Again, the gentleman indicates that we want to consider the immigration issue on a thoughtful, discrete -- that is, as the Speaker said, bill by bill. Is there any expectation that the gentleman has that that bill will be brought to the Floor before we adjourn for the year?”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer: “You've passed out of Committee the agricultural guest worker program. [It] creates a new temporary worker program. That also passed on a partisan vote. None of these votes were bipartisan. There was no effort to work with the Democrats on the committee to bring a bipartisan bill, unlike Mr. Lucas or Mr. Carter who brought bipartisan bills to the Floor and saw them turned into partisan pieces of legislation, with the help frankly of the Majority party. Now, I'm asking you: the Agricultural Guestworker Act, are we going to bring that to the Floor? Again, a discrete, thoughtful, I'm sure, on your side of the aisle, addressing of a broken program. But if we don't bring it to the Floor, we don't consider it, we can never get to conference, which is what the gentleman says he wants to do.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer: “Why don't you bring them to the Floor? H.R. 1772, the Legal Workforce Act, makes e-verify immigration status programs for prospective employees mandatory. Again, I presume that this is one of Mr. Goodlatte's thoughtful, considered steps to fix a broken immigration system. All I'm asking is, now for the fourth time, will you bring one or more of these bills to the Floor? We may not be for them, but at least they put, as the gentleman keeps saying, a bill before the House so the House can work its will. And frankly, if they're defeated, then it would be incumbent upon us to move in a different direction. But if they're just sitting there, without consideration by the House, without the ability of the House to work its will, then it continues to cause inaction on a subject that all of us have expressed needs action. … but I would ask the gentleman, if he really wants the House to work its will and he believes that H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration bill, is a bad bill, bring it to the Floor and see if the House thinks it's a bad bill. See if the House believes that it's a bill that is not worthy to be considered and passed as a fixing of a broken immigration system. I would urge my friend to bring that bill to the Floor. He has the power to bring that bill to the Floor. I would urge him to do so.”

Majority Leader Eric Cantor: “I look forward to working with him in a deliberative, thoughtful approach, not bringing up the Senate bill, because we're not going to do that.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer: “In closing, Madam Speaker, let me simply observe that this is somewhat ironic, because the gentleman has repeatedly said he doesn't like the Senate bill. I hear that. He then says we need to consider a more thoughtful way of doing this. I get that. I then pointed out that the Committee, which is headed by Mr. Goodlatte, Republican leader of the Judiciary Committee, has passed a number of bills, presumably in that quest for a more thoughtful consideration to fix a broken system. The gentleman has not said he's going to bring any of those bills to the Floor, so he knows what he's against, Madam Speaker. He knows what his party is against, Madam Speaker, but he cannot tell us what he's going to do to fix a broken system because apparently the four bills that I have asked about are not being brought to the Floor, are not part of the solution of which the gentleman speaks and that's regrettable.”

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