Stealth lawmakers secretly crafted the plan
Posted Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013
By Maria Recio
Star-Telegram Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — For three years U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, has been the coolest of operators — the Republican leader of a stealth bipartisan group that fashioned comprehensive immigration legislation that will be released today.
“We address all categories,” Carter told the Star-Telegram. “Border security and all the things that go to the people who are here illegally. I believe we’ve solved the problem of those concerned with the rule of law,” meaning those opposed to amnesty, “but we’ve done it with compassion.”
“We think we’ve got a good product,” he said.
In what may well be the best-kept secret in Washington and usually sieve-prone Capitol Hill, Carter and as many as 20 members of the House, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, secretly reached agreement on a package that Carter said is “90 percent there.”
Of the 20 legislators who started the process, six remain. The Democratic leader is Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California. The 14 others have either retired or lost their seats to election losses.
The leaders of both parties, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California were aware of the secret negotiations. “They’ve been in touch throughout the process,” Carter said. Boehner revealed the existence of the secretive working group last week in a closed-door speech to a Republican group. Details emerged late in the week.
The House legislation will immediately take center stage as both President Barack Obama and Senate leaders like Marco Rubio, R-Fla., develop their own legislation. Obama is scheduled to give a speech on immigration reform Tuesday in Las Vegas. He won re-election with 71 percent support from Latinos and has pledged to make immigration overhaul a top priority of his second term.
Maria Recio is the Star-Telegram’s Washington bureau chief.