With an immigration bill that provides a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants set to pass the Senate this week, the bipartisan bill faces a much tougher path in the House of Representatives.
But Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas says there's a bigger window for the House to pass a bill, telling host Chuck Todd in a Daily Rundown web exclusive that getting a bill passed this year is the key.
"The window we’re operating in is within 2013," said the freshman Democrat. "If we can get it done this year, I think that’s the key."
While getting it done before the August recess would be "great," Castro said, "I think you could come back to it in September or October," but admitted it becomes "a lot tougher" in 2014—an election year.
Even though it's certain to be met with pushback from many conservative Republicans, the San Antonio congressman said that he and other reform advocates hoped a strong vote in the Senate could provide a needed push.
"We’re hoping that the momentum once that passes will carry over to the House, and the House will take action."
While Castro said he didn't think the House's own bipartisan group's effort to come up with their own bill was dead just yet and he was "hopeful that there will be something they put out soon," the Senate's version is the best they can hope for.
"I don't think for Democrats or for the country that the bill is going to get any better in the House of Representatives."
Last week's farm bill defeat showed the difficulty of getting legislation through the current Congress and wasn't the best omen for immigration reform. But Castro said his vote against the bill was because Republicans had tacked on too many cuts to food stamps and the likelihood that could get fixed later on was slim.
"There’s no guarantee Republicans would be reasonable in conference," said Castro. " They’ve engaged in a lot of obstructions and been very hardheaded, quite frankly, on their positions, and people were taking a gamble to [vote for it.]"