Despite assurances from House Republicans that comprehensive immigration reform has no chance of happening in 2013, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Nov. 14 that he still thinks legislation is possible this year.
Gang of Eight
Schumer was part of the “Gang of Eight” senators who came to a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform over the summer, passing a bill that has been stalled in the House for months. A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants was one of the keystones of that compromise, and that has been the biggest obstacle to reform in the House.
Nonetheless, Schumer believes that if Congress doesn’t pass a reform bill by the end of 2013, it will definitely happen early in 2014. As evidence for his optimism, Schumer cited the practical concerns of the election cycle, noting that Republicans would have to realize it’s in their best interest to get something done on the issue.
“They have to do something, and the Republican leadership in the House knows that – Speaker Boehner knows that,” Schumer told reporters. “At the same time, they can’t do it without Democrats.”
Other issues getting in the way
At the same time, other legislative battles have overtaken immigration reform on the political agenda. The major problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, congressional wrangling over budgetary issues and hearings related to the leaking of National Security Agency documents have all become pressing issues, drawing attention away from fixing the immigration system.
Schumer acknowledged as much, telling the Washington Times, “It would be nice if we could get something done this year – I wouldn’t rule it out – but I think all the fuss about Obamacare, all the problems that have occurred, have made it less likely to do something now, [because] my guess – [Republicans] may not want to go off that message.”