House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on Friday blamed Obamacare and its rollout problems for GOP leaders’ decision not to bring up immigration reform in 2013.
The No. 2 GOP congressman evoked the health care law in response to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) insistence that he bring the Senate-passed immigration bill to a vote.
“We don’t want a repeat of what’s going on now with Obamacare,” Cantor said during a floor colloquy. “That bill, constructed as it is by the Senate, last-minute ditch effort to get it across the finish line. I think that there is a lot that could be done a lot better in that bill.”
“Let’s be mindful,” he said, “of what happens when you put together a bill, like Obamacare, and the real consequences to millions of Americans right now, scared that they’re not going to even have health care insurance that they have today by — come January 1. And there are plenty of reasons for that. The mishaps with the websites, the call centers, the stolen identities … some of which could be blamed on the process by which it was put together. We don’t want to make that mistake again.”
Hoyer noted that Cantor “has the power to bring that [Senate] bill to the floor” and urged him to let the House decide if it’s a worthy fix to a “broken immigration system.”
The Republican leader ruled out a House vote or bicameral conference negotiations on the Senate immigration bill, attacking the Obama administration for a general “unwillingness to sit down and talk” and a “my way or the highway” attitude.
Cantor acknowledged that “the system is broken and it needs to be fixed” but said there are “differences on how to go about doing that.” He said Republicans remain committed to reforming immigration in a step-by-step manner but provided no time table for a vote.
The prospects of enacting reform are expected to diminish in 2014, due to fiscal deadlines early next year, followed by mid-term primaries in the summer and elections in the fall.
Watch the video of the Cantor-Hoyer colloquy below, posted by the minority whip’s office.