Sen. Chuck Grassley puts ball in House’s court on immigration reform

Speaking at the National Press Club on Monday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that his panel has no plans to write immigration legislation until he knows for certain that the House will act on immigration reform:

“I want to use my time and the committee’s time to do something,” said Grassley, who has served on the Judiciary Committee since 1981. “We worked for three months on [immigration reform] two years ago, and then the House didn’t do anything.”

In May 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an immigration bill that would have, among other things, strengthened border security and interior enforcement, revamped the visa system, and provided a 13-year pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who pay a fine, learn English, and pass a background check. Grassley was one of five Republicans who voted against the bill in committee. A month later, the full Senate passed the legislation, but it died in the House.

“I want to know that the House is going to act,” Grassley said. “If the House gets it done before Labor Day, I think it may happen, but there’s some idea the House may not do anything. … You can understand why I wouldn’t waste time.”

Yes, Grassley is complaining that the House failed to pass a bill he himself voted against. However, he does have a point — spending months drafting an immigration bill that would only die in the House would achieve nothing except further promoting the misconception that the GOP is the “do nothing” party. In the meantime, Grassley said he intends to focus on issues that have bipartisan support, such as sentencing reform, patent reform, whistleblower protection, asset forfeiture practices at the Department of Justice, and use-of-force policies at police departments.