Democrats divided on immigration

Kasie Hunt

A new push on immigration reform risks exposing deep fissures in the Democratic Party, forcing nervous lawmakers to vote on an emotional wedge issue just months before the midterm elections.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed publicly Thursday what has been discussed privately around the Capitol for days: that the House will take up an immigration bill, but only if the Senate passes one first.

“If the Senate is ready with an immigration bill, we don’t want anyone holding it up,” Pelosi said. “We would be pleased to welcome it to the House.”

Whether an immigration bill could get through the Senate is a huge “if,” of course — just six months from the elections.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is sending his “strongest signal yet” that immigration reform is next on tap for the Senate, possibly at the expense of a climate change bill, a Democratic aide said. “Immigration is gaining steam; climate change may suffer,” the aide said.

Politically vulnerable House members aren’t looking forward to taking yet another difficult vote this year, especially after many have already put their jobs on the line voting with the speaker on health care and a cap-and-trade bill.

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