With Congress embroiled in financial controversies, the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives this week introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (H.R. 15). The bill is in most respects the same as the bill of the same name passed by the Senate (S.744). Neither the bill passed by the Senate nor the bill introduced by House Democrats is likely to be taken up by the Republican-controlled House.
S.744 was passed with a bipartisan majority of the Senate in June 2013. S.744 addresses all major aspects of immigration reform in a comprehensive package. To gather additional Republican votes, a border security amendment was added. Referred to as a "border surge" approach, the amendment authorizes spending $30 billion on the border, doubling the Border Patrol, requiring an additional 700 miles of fence, and providing for aerial reconnaissance and drones. With the border surge amendment, S.744 passed the Senate by a vote of 68-32, including 14 GOP votes.
The Republican leadership in the House has said they will not take up S.744. Instead, House Republicans are moving a series of immigration bills addressing specific aspects of immigration reform. Some thought the House might address immigration form in the October/November timeframe, but it is increasingly difficult to see how that happens with the Congress battling over budget, government shutdown and debt ceiling disagreements.
H.R. 15, the House Democrat bill, is, for the most part, the same as S.744 which passed the Senate. The major difference relates to border security. In place of the border surge approach of the Senate bill, H.R. 15 incorporates the border security approach of H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act. This is one of the House bills that passed through House committee on a bipartisan basis. This approach focuses more on defining what a secure border is and requiring achievement of certain operational goals in securing the border.
Since H.R. 15 is very similar to S.744, it is not expected that the GOP leadership of the House will move either bill. It is generally understood that H.R. 15 is House Democrats' vehicle to try to keep the immigration issue alive in the House in the hope of seeing immigration reform legislation pass in this Congress.