Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., had a message for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, regarding an immigration reform bill: “We just need a vote.” And he added that he was willing to tolerate a lot to get to that point.
The important thing, Gutierrez said at a pro-immigration reform press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, was to get something — pretty much anything — to the House floor so the Republicans who have signaled a willingness to support reform can join with his Democratic colleagues and pass a bill.
If the House bill isn’t perfect, well, then things can then be worked out in conference with the Senate later on. Right now, they just have to get there.
“We need to give them a vehicle,” Gutierrez said of the reform-leaning Republicans. His side cannot afford to let the current pro-reform momentum drain away.
Gutierrez was speaking at an event with representatives of of groups backing immigration reform, including the National Council of La Raza, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, among others.
La Raza’s immigration director, Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, also signaled that the substance of the House bill wasn’t as important as getting to a floor vote.
“There are a lot of different ways to go about it,” she said.
The groups vowed to press wavering Republicans during the August through grassroots activism. The Twitter hashtag for the effort will be #TimeIsNow.
They mentioned Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as a particular target. McCarthy is the House Majority Whip, the third ranking position. He also represents a district that is one-third Latino.
The groups repeatedly made the argument that they had already won the debate.
“The only obstacle between America and a workable immigration system is whether or not Speaker John Boehner allows the House — where we believe the majority favors reform — to take an up or down vote,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.
Perhaps unintentionally though they also signaled that Boehner has some leverage of his own in this debate.