Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins said this week that the Republican-controlled House will not consider an immigration reform bill until President Barack Obama is out of office, or until the GOP wins back control of the Senate.
"With the president just unilaterally deciding what laws he wants to enforce, which ones he wants to change, and which ones he wants to ignore, we just decided until we get a president and administration we can trust," the House won't take up the issue, Jenkins said in a telephone interview Monday.
Jenkins was in Douglas County Monday to hold a town hall meeting in Baldwin City and visit with local businesses. A Republican from Topeka, her district includes all of Douglas County.
She said the distrust that House GOP leaders feel toward Obama stems largely from his handling of the federal health care law, commonly known as Obamacare. And she said the House would not vote on immigration reform until Obama is out of office, "Or at least until there's another chamber that can hold him more accountable."
"Right now, if Mitt Romney were president, I don't think anyone would be standing still for him making 13 unilateral changes to a health care law," she said. "You just can't do that. And so until there's some confidence that he can be held accountable or be trusted to implement the laws that we pass, it would be pointless to have this (immigration) debate."
In June, the Senate passed an immigration bill on a bipartisan vote, 68-32. It called for adding 20,000 additional border security officers and completion of a 700-mile fence along the U.S. border with Mexico. It would also give "provisional" residency status to some undocumented immigrants currently in the country.
But Jenkins said that bill was "blue-slipped" by the House, meaning it was sent back to the Senate without consideration because it included spending increases. The House has long maintained that the U.S. Constitution requires bills calling for new taxes or appropriations to originate in the lower chamber
"It will never find its way to the House," she said. "I think that's one of the reasons they (the Senate) did it that way, they knew the House couldn't act on it."
Jenkins was the principal sponsor of a bill passed in the House last week to delay for one year the health care law's requirement that most individuals carry health insurance this year. It was criticized by Democrats for being the 50th vote in the House to chip away at the president's signature piece of domestic legislation, and Obama promised to veto it if it ever reached his desk.
But Jenkins defended the bill, and the numerous House votes to block Obamacare.
"We do it because whether it's the first vote or the 50th vote, it's the right thing to do," Jenkins said. "And we're still not convinced that while he sent a veto message over on my bill ... I still think it's in the realm of possibility he'll go ahead and accept that change and do it. He just wants it to be his own action. He doesn't want to work with Congress on anything."
Jenkins also said there is little chance the House will vote on Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.