House Democrats’ Immigration Bill Gets Its First Republican Backer


jeff denhamIn a sign Republicans are growing frustrated with the House GOP’s delay tactics on an immigration bill, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) has announced he will support the Democrats’ plan.

He joins 185 Democratic members in supporting a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship, deciding to after members added a special path for undocumented youth in the military. Denham called the bill “far different than anything we’ve seen in the past” because it includes tougher border security provisions that already passed in committee last spring.

Democrats will need more bipartisan support than just Denham’s to reach 218 votes. But 28 House Republicans have already come out in favor of a path to citizenship, and so Denham thinks more will join him. “I’m the first Republican,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post. “I expect more to come on board.”

One of those who might become a supporter is Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), who slammed his party’s leadership Friday for “punting” immigration reform, because there may be no votes until 2014.

Even though there is bipartisan support for reform, it’s unlikely House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would permit a vote on a bill without a majority of Republican House members. Republicans close to House leadership, including Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), have declared immigration reform “dead.”

Still, Denham said he was “confident” Boehner will bring forward some bill in the 19 workdays left before the end of the legislative session. To get there, he said, “we’re going to continue to make sure that the entire country focuses on this, and that we actually get more Republicans that are willing to take a stand and get out there.”

More Republicans may break away in favor of finally fixing immigration, but the shutdown fight has also made some lawmakers more obstinate, citing anger toward the President as a reason to oppose immigration reform.