One of the highest ranking Republicans in Congress joined the chorus of pessimism about the likelihood of an immigration reform bill passing any time this year.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said on Tuesday that the chances are remote for an agreement between the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a majority, and the House of Representatives, where the GOP holds say, happening in 2014 on the highly charged issue of immigration.
His predictions come on the heels of a series of generally skeptical comments by Republicans leaders on the prospects for passage this year of an immigration reform bill.
He based his comment on the leap years apart that both chambers are on various aspects of immigration reform.
“I think we have sort of an irresolvable conflict here,” he told reporters, according to various media reports. “The Senate insists on comprehensive [legislation]. The House says it won’t go to conference with the Senate on comprehensive and wants to look at [it] step by step.
“I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place,” he said.
Last week, House GOP leaders released a set of what they termed “immigration principles,” a sort of mission statement on how immigration laws should be overhauled.
Some of the principles in the one-page document sharply departed from long time hard-line stances on the issue, such as the ones that expressed support for allowing certain undocumented immigrants a chance to legalize their status.
But the principles ran into resistance from the most conservative faction, which vows not to go along with any immigration reform provision that allows what they call amnesty, or a reward for lawbreakers.
Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, has sought to reassure his conservative colleagues by saying that any breaks for undocumented immigrants will not come before border security is tightened and interior enforcement is improved.
Republicans in the House – where the fate of immigration reform largely lies at this point, with the Senate having reached a bipartisan agreement on the issue last year – have said they will not repeat the Senate approach to passing a sweeping bill, and instead prefer dealing with legislation in bits and pieces.
The difference in philosophies about how to deal with immigration reform, McConnell said, is major stumbling block to making progress on coming up with a legislation that can be brought to the floor for a vote.
Fellow Senate Republican, Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, echoed the sentiment that many Republicans will not come around to supporting a sweeping reform measure.
“I think the problem isn’t so much the principles, it’s how legislation actually gets passed an we find consensus and that’s the challenge,” he said. “The Senate bill is a non-starter because it just reminds people of Obamacare, another big expensive bill with a lot of moving parts.”