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Senate immigration bill is a ‘pipe dream’ in the House: GOP lawmaker

Chris Moody
Yahoo! News

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Illinois Republican Rep. Peter Roskam (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Senate is poised to pass a comprehensive immigration bill this week. Immigration reform proponents will cheer! Immigrant activists will cry tears of joy! DREAMers will dream bigger dreams!

Not to be a heartbreaker, but this party probably won't last long.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives hasn't the slightest intention of passing the thing as a whole, says Illinois Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, a lawmaker responsible for counting Republican votes.

Roskam, who serves as the Republican chief deputy whip, made it clear on Thursday that House leaders do not plan to put the complete Senate bill to a vote on the floor of the lower chamber. Even if they did, it likely wouldn't pass.

“The House has no capacity to move that bill in its entirety. It just won’t happen," Roskam said during a meeting with reporters on Thursday morning. "It is a pipe dream to think that that bill is going to go to the floor and be voted on. The House is going to move through in a more deliberative process.”

While Senate members have agreed to take a comprehensive approach on the legislation—their bill would provide a pathway to legality for unauthorized immigrants and to spend billions on border security—House lawmakers intend to pass the bill in pieces, starting with a bill that shores up border security and then (maybe) another measure that deals with the 11 million people currently living in the United States illegally.

But that approach won't fly with Senate Democrats or President Barack Obama, who say they won't accept an immigration bill that doesn't have a pathway to legal status baked into the cake. Some might call it an impasse, a term more commonly referred to as just another day in Washington.

Unlike their counterparts in the Senate, who have taken steps to pass the bill quickly, the House is in no rush to act.

In one important way, the roles between the two chambers are reversed. There is a long-standing Washington tradition in which the House passes bills and the Senate ceremonially (and proudly) ignores them. This time, the House is the saucer that will cool the Senate's tea. Or, to put it another way, House Republicans want to slow-jam the immigration bill; Senate Democrats are thinking more Busta Rhymes.

For the moment, the House seems to be enjoying the role-reversal. Some aren't even reading the Senate version at all.

“I have not gone through chapter and verse on the Senate bill," Roskam said. "I don’t think I’m going to be voting on the Senate bill, so it’s not as if I’m marinating in study.”

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