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Committee Votes Down Immigration Reform as Budget Booster

Democrats on the House Budget Committee forced their GOP counterparts to vote to include money for immigration reform in a budget bill Wednesday, a move to put them on record on the stagnant issue.

The amendment failed on a 21-15 vote along party lines.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., offered it knowing passage was unlikely. But with no movement in the House on immigration reform, Democrats are using legislative tactics to force Republicans to go on record with their support or opposition. The Senate passed a sweeping, bipartisan immigration bill in June but that bill has gone nowhere in the House.

Cárdenas pitched his amendment as an economic measure that would create jobs and balance the budget.

“This is the only vote we can get on comprehensive immigration reform,” Cárdenas said. Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., declined to respond when Cárdenas asked him to urge House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to call a vote on H.R. 15, the House Democrats' version of the Senate bill.

In a rebuttal, Ryan repeated House GOP support for addressing the issue with individual bills that first secure the border and toughen interior enforcement, verify workers are legally in the country and create a guest worker program. “Lastly, we need to give people a chance to get right with the law,” he said.

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., added that two committee chairman are “well on their way” on drafting immigration bills, “unfortunately they aren’t going to be coming up as quickly as some people would like.”