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House Republican Mario Diaz-Balart: Bipartisan Immigration Reform Breakthrough Ready

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In an interview with the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) states that immigration reform legislation that can attract bipartisan support and pass the House is nearly completed – calling into question whether and when House Republican leaders will schedule a vote.  As Sargent characterizes in his new post:

GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a leading Republican player in the immigration debate, tells me he and some Republicans have succeeded in establishing legislative language that would solve the problem of the 11 million while also beefing up enforcement — in a way he claims could win over large numbers of Republicans and Democrats.

This would mean the only thing holding up progress on reform right now may be the refusal of House GOP leaders to allow it to move forward — and not the inability of Republicans to find a policy solution to the 11 million they can support, long a principal obstacle.

Speaking of the new legislative proposal, Rep. Diaz-Balart tells Sargent:

Can you draft legislation that has serious border and interior security, with sufficient leverage to force this or future administrations?  I think we have drafted a way to actually do that.

Can we deal with the undocumented in a way that is fair, that makes sense, that adheres strictly to the rule of law? I think we’ve also cracked that nut.

We have legislative language that could potentially get the support of a majority of Republicans and a very large group of Democrats.

Rep. Diaz-Balart also agreed that immigration reform will become more difficult if House Republicans delay action in 2014 – a signal to House Republican leaders like Speaker John Boehner that they should act this year.  Said Rep. Diaz-Balart:

“It’s more difficult if not impossible next year.  The moment when leadership is going to have to make the final decision on whether they’re going to move forward or not is going to be upon us really soon.”

Rep. Diaz-Balart’s comments echo those of Republican Senator Dean Heller, (NV) who noted recently that the votes exist to pass immigration reform in the House today.  The only thing missing is the scheduling of the vote by Speaker Boehner and Republican leaders.

Also this week, fellow pro-reform Republican House member Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) told Newsmax that despite recent speculation to the contrary, House Republican “leadership has made resolving the immigration crisis a principle — part of our agenda — and made a commitment for a vote this year.”

Barring the vote that Rep. Diaz-Balart, Rep. Denham, and Senator Heller seem to be calling for, Rep. Steve King’s amendment to deport DREAMers will be the only immigration floor action the House can point to from this Congress.