A top Republican lawmaker told protesters he met with in his home district in California this week that the House would not have time this year to vote on any immigration measure.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the majority whip, told demonstrators in his office in Bakersfield late Thursday that the 16 days remaining on the House calendar in 2013 were too short a window to take up the complex issue. But he said he was committed to moving on immigration votes in the House next year.
The comments were reported by Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, who was one of the protesters who occupied McCarthy’s office for 10 hours Thursday.
McCarthy’s comments came after a week in which groups that want to see a broad immigration overhaul intensified protests across the country hoping to push GOP leaders to hold a vote before the end of the year.
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Another House Republican said that despite the delay, he was not discouraged. That congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart, of Florida, said he was working with other Republicans on a bill to strengthen border security and allow 11.7 million immigrants in the country illegally to “get right with the law.”
Frustration is rising among advocates of an immigration overhaul, after momentum they felt they had drifted away during the government shutdown and the fiscal battles this fall. In June, the Senate passed a broad bipartisan measure, including a path to citizenship for immigrants here illegally. Advocates hoped for a vote in the House on a bill that could be paired with the Senate’s. But divisions remain among House Republicans, with a core of conservatives rejecting any legalization as amnesty.