An internal split within the Republican Party is on full display as the House begins to consider immigration reform legislation, which now faces a perilous path to becoming law.
With the House GOP conference set to meet to air their grievances over the bill, particularly on its border enforcement and pathway to citizenship, establishment Republicans are stepping up their push for the reforms they see as necessary as the party keeps losing Hispanic voters.
One key voice–that still may not be enough for some on the right–was a rare appearance by former President George W. Bush who spoke at his presidential library Wednesday morning in support of comprehensive reform.
“I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate, and I hope during the debate that we keep a benevolent spirit in mind and we understand the contributions immigrants make to country,” said Bush.
But House Republicans have said they will not take up the Senate bill. In an op-ed this week, conservative columnists Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry summed up the opposition to the bill: “Passing any version of the Gang of Eight’s bill would be worse public policy than passing nothing. House Republicans can do the country a service by putting a stake through its heart.”
Former Congressional Black Caucus director Angela Rye, GOPAC president David Avella and NBC Senior Political Editor Mark Murray joined Wednesday’s gaggle to discuss the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform.
Avella said he was “optimistic” believing there is a “30% chance of getting something passed.” But the GOPAC director also warned that progress will be a process.
“The Senate had their time to deliberate and pass something; the House should get that same time to get to deliberate and pass something. Then it goes to conference. And then we see what the president will sign,” said Avella, whose group looks to promote new GOP leaders.
Rye said she believes that any legislation that does not include a pathway to citizenship is a non-starter with reform advocates.
“Everyone is very, very clear, particularly advocates–and not just Latino advocates–but general American people feel very strongly about finding a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million,” she said.
Murray explained that the latest disagreements indicate a divide between House Republicans and the overall Republican Party in part because of electoral politics.
“There are very few House Republicans that have a large segment of Latinos in their congressional districts,” Murray said.
Despite what seems to be a gridlock, Murray cautioned viewers to wait and see on an issue that may linger longer than this summer.
“Right now you have to be pretty pessimistic on where things stand. But let’s see where things stand three or four months from now. Things can always change as they often do in this town,” Murray said.