By Rebecca Shabad
Rep. David Valadao (Calif.) on Wednesday became the third House Republican to back a Democratic-led immigration reform bill.
“By supporting H.R. 15 I am strengthening my message: Addressing immigration reform in the House cannot wait. I am serious about making real progress and will remain committed to doing whatever it takes to repair our broken immigration system,” he said in a statement that afternoon.
He was referring to Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia’s (Fla.) immigration reform bill, H.R. 15. On Tuesday, Valadao suggested he would endorse it.
“If my signing on to it helps move the [process] forward, I’m happy to do that,” Valadao told California newspaper The Hanford Sentinel on Tuesday.
Valadao is a House freshman who was first elected to Congress in November.
The 2014 midterm election might have influenced Valadao’s decision to sign on. Democrats hold a 15-point voter registration edge in his district. Democrat Amanda Renteria is challenging him in a bid to take the 21st District seat.
On Tuesday, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) became the second Republican to sign on to Garcia’s measure as a co-sponsor. Rep. Jeff Denham, another Californian, was the first to do so over the weekend.
In a teleconference with the National Immigration Forum Tuesday, Valadao also reportedly said he’d consider joining them.
Garcia introduced the legislation in early October, and it’s partially based on the Gang of Eight legislation the Senate passed in June.
The bill would provide a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, increase border security and set in motion a broad overhaul of the immigration system.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has rejected calls to bring the Senate bill to the House floor.
The White House had also invited Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) to a Tuesday meeting with President Obama to discuss immigration reform efforts, but it was later canceled.
Last week, Obama hiked up pressure on House GOP lawmakers to pass immigration reform by the end of the year. He said he’d be open to any legislation as long as it includes a path to citizenship.
— This story was first posted at 3:05 p.m. and has been updated.http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/homenews/188711-gopers-breaking-away-on-immigration