Harry Reid is why Congress can’t get anything done: Senate leader says House border bill is a vehicle to pass immigration reform

There are 358 House-passed bills collecting dust in the Senate because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won’t bring them up for a vote in the upper chamber. Of course, when the two houses of Congress are controlled by competing parties, there’s naturally going to be disagreement on issues facing the country and subsequent legislative gridlock.

But even when there is agreement on an issue, someone tries to take advantage of the situation, only further complicating the legislative process. That’s what Reid did yesterday when he suggested that the House border bill could be used as a vehicle to pass Senate’s immigration reform package:

Reid said the policy changes would give him an opportunity to attach the comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Senate passed last year with the support of 14 Republicans.

“If they pass that, maybe it’s an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform. If they’re finally sending us something on immigration, maybe we can do that,” Reid told reporters after a lunch meeting with his caucus.

“We’ve been looking for something to do a conference on. Maybe we can do it with that,” Reid said.

The differences between the two chambers on the will have be worked out in a conference committee, where just about anything can be slipped in provided there is agreement between negotiators. The $659 million border bill the House is expected to consider isn’t as broad or expensive as the Senate’s $2.7 billion version.

If those difference weren’t enough of a hurdle for the two chambers to overcome in  conference, Reid’s comments only further complicate the problem. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) accused the Senate leader of trying to kill the House bill before the chamber even considers it:

“Senator Reid, embarrassed that he cannot strong-arm the Senate into passing the blank check President Obama demanded, is making a deceitful and cynical attempt to derail the House’s common-sense solution,” Boehner said in a statement.

“So let me be as clear as I can be with Senator Reid: the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion,” Boehner said. “Nor will we accept any attempt to add any other comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act, to the House’s targeted legislation, which is meant to fix the actual problems causing the border crisis.”

Regardless of opinions on immigration reform, Reid unnecessarily complicated things yesterday by raising the possibility of adding it to the House border bill. He knows that many, if not most House Republicans oppose the Senate’s immigration reform bill and that including it in a compromise would kill the legislation to address the influx of immigrant children at the Southwest border.

And even if there were broad agreement on the issue in both chambers on immigration reform, slipping into a conference committee agreement for an emergency funding bill wouldn’t be the way the way do it.

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