At a news conference, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made clear the House would not simply take up the Senate bill as some Democrats and outside advocates are calling for, but would chart its own legislation with a focus on border security. How exactly Boehner will proceed remained unclear, but the speaker has called a special meeting of his majority Republicans for July 10 to go over options.
"The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We're going to do our own bill," Boehner said. "It'll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people."
At a panel discussion Friday hosted by Bloomberg Government and the National Restaurant Association, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., rejected the notion that House Republicans would feel any pressure to act just because the Senate had done so.
"If anybody thinks that because there's a Senate bill the House members will feel pressure, that's just not true," said Diaz-Balart, who's involved in a faltering bipartisan effort in the House to craft a comprehensive bill. He said the pressure would come because lawmakers recognize the system is broken and in need of repair.
The bill passed by the Senate devotes $46 billion to border security improvements, including calling for a doubling of the border patrol stationed on the U.S.-Mexico border and the completion of 700 miles of fencing — changes added at the last minute to attract Republican support. No one would be able to get a permanent resident green card until those border enhancements and others were in place.
The bill also makes it mandatory for employers to check their workers' legal status, sets up new visa programs to allow workers into the country and establishes new tracking systems at seaports and airports to keep better tabs on people entering and leaving the country.