No action soon on immigration, voting rights act, House Judiciary Committee chair says


McClatchy Washington Bureau

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Thursday not to expect action soon from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives torevamp the nation’s immigration laws or repair the Voting Rights Act, which was weakened by a Supreme Court decision last year.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that Republicans won’t move an immigration overhaul until the Obama administration begins to strictly enforce current immigration laws.

‘The environment for doing this is exceedingly difficult,’ Goodlatte said. He blamed Obama for the surge of unaccompanied immigrant children coming across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Il., a leading proponent of revamping immigration laws, said Wednesday that the effort to get a bill through Congress is effectively dead.

‘Nothing’s going to happen,’ Gutierrez told The Washington Post Wednesday. ‘My point of view is, this is over…Every day, they (Republicans) become not recalcitrant but even more energetically opposed to working with us. How many times does someone have to say no until you understand they mean no?’

Goodlatte was equally pessimistic about the prospects of a Voting Rights Act remedy passing Congress this year. A bipartisan, bicameral bill authored last January by Reps. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and John Conyers, D-Mich., and Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy,D-Vt., has languished since it was introduced earlier this year. Leahy’s committee held its first hearing on the bill on Wednesday.

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, a formula that decided which states and jurisdictions with histories of violating voter rights would have to get federal consent before making any changes to their voting laws. The court called the formula outdated.

The court decision weakened other pillars of the landmark Voting Rights Act and civil rights advocates, civil liberties groups, and several lawmakers have been pressing Congress to repair the act before November’s elections.

‘There is a great deal of dispute in many quarters as to how this should be addressed,’ Goodlatte told reporters.


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