Appearing on Sunday morning news shows, Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Eric Cantor, R-Va., appeared hesitant to confirm that the House will pursue immigration legislation this year. Ryan said that the likelihood of a broad immigration bill reaching President Obama's desk this year is "clearly in doubt," while Cantor said Congress should focus on “things that we can agree on.”
"This is not one of those issues that has a deadline," Ryan said on ABC’s “This Week.” He stressed that the border must be secured before any legalization. "We don't know who's coming and going in this country. We don't have control of our borders," he said. "Doing nothing on the security side of this isn't the responsible thing to do…We don’t think that we can allow this border to continue to be overrun, and if we can get security first, no amnesty, before anything happens, we think that is a good approach. This is not a trust-but-verify; this is a verify-but-trust approach.”
Asked if Congress will send the president a bill to sign this year, Ryan said, "I really don't know the answer to that question. That's clearly in doubt…We are still having a debate in our caucus."
On “Face the Nation” Majority Leader Cantor said, “There's a lot of focus on the immigration issue, but you know in reality, we not only want to help the situation there, a lot of the discussion that we had with our members at the retreat was that we want to help the problems right now: job growth and the lack of the job growth. I believe that you're going to see us, in Congress, not only continue this discussion on immigration, but we want to try to get to the heart of the issues that are affecting most Americans.”
“I'm not running away from this,” Cantor said. “I know this is something that a lot of people want to report on and talk about, but most of the American people are worried about what's going on in their households, the fact that wages have not gone up in this country in ten years.” Cantor continued.
Cantor said they should focus on “things that we can agree on,” like the so-called DREAMers brought to the country illegally by their parents, but on other issues, Republicans do not trust the Administration to implement the law. “We just heard the president in his State of the Union address say, you know what, if he can't work with Congress, he's going to do it his own way,” Cantor said. “There's not been a determined sense that we are going to secure the borders and make sure that the laws on the books are being implemented now. I would say that is a precursor and has to happen first.”
On “Meet the Press," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the House Republican leaders’ plan represents "pretty good progress," and said the White House feels “pretty good” about getting a bill this year. "The bottom line here is that [Obama] doesn't want to see an America where we have two permanent classes - citizens and non-citizens," McDonough said.
Updated: Wed, Feb 5th 2014 @ 10:53am EST