As the Senate begins debating the bipartisan bill for immigration reform this week, the House of Representatives has yet to introduce a bill of its own. The “Group of Eight” (the House counterpart to the Senate “Gang of Eight”) has not yet finished any bill. Rumors that the group will break up seem to come on a weekly basis, only to be followed by another reassurance that every day a bill is closer to introduction.
This past Wednesday, however, Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) announced that he was leaving the group over disagreements about access to health care for newly legalized immigrants. This does not seem to indicate that the group will break up, however. In fact, this might ease negotiations within the group itself. Yet since the group has one less Republican member, it will now be more difficult to gain broader support in the House for any future bills from the group. For Representatives already looking for any reason to oppose reform this gives them one more. At the same time, the group faces pressure from others groups to finish their own bill before the Senate finishes debate on its respective bill.
Meanwhile, the Senate will vote tomorrow to proceed with debate for its bill. They are expected to move forward, which means that we will likely see amendments being offered and voted on by Wednesday.