By JAKE SHERMAN, SEUNG MIN KIM and JOHN BRESNAHANDemocratic Sen. Chuck Schumer has held private talks on immigration with Republican Reps. Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy. President Barack Obama’s emissaries have spoken with House GOP leadership about an overhaul. Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have also chatted on the House floor about immigration.
It sometimes seems like House Republicans are in their own universe when it comes to rewriting the nation’s immigration laws. But since late last year, key House Republicans have been meeting with House and Senate Democrats as they try to reach a deal.
The talks haven’t led to any agreement on hugely controversial issues like a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. But they provide a window into the urgency — and high stakes — surrounding the immigration reform debate.
These are far from formal negotiations, and essentially amount to private information trading between Capitol power players.
But the sideline chats illustrate that House Republicans — long skittish about tackling the hot-button issue — aren’t exactly acting in a vacuum. Even if Senate Democrats don’t have a seat at the House Republican table, they have an idea where the chamber is heading. Cross-party and cross-chamber talks — no matter how limited the scope — show leading figures in both parties are serious about finding common ground. But it’s not clear whether these quiet discussions will lead to a breakthrough.
Schumer has been particularly busy. In 2013, the New York Democrat — who led immigration negotiations in the Senate — approached Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, and the pair have met four times since then, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the talks. They spoke about other issues as well — ice fishing and Asian carp — but immigration reform was high on the docket.
There were no actual negotiations in the meetings, which have not been disclosed until now. Schumer prodded Ryan to chart a course forward.
“In 2013, Sen. Schumer reached out and Congressman Ryan agreed to talk with him,” Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert said. “They discussed a number of issues, but with respect to immigration reform, Congressman Ryan made clear to Sen. Schumer that we’re doing things differently in the House.”
Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, has also sat down with Schumer. A former prosecutor who chairs the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Gowdy is a respected figure on the right and he has the ear of a broad swath of conservatives. Gowdy didn’t respond to an email from POLITICO about his discussions with Schumer.
“Congressman Gowdy has met with people of all political persuasions on immigration,” Gowdy spokeswoman Amanda Infield Duvall said in a statement. “He meets with people all the time on the issue.”
More at link: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/immigration-chuck-schumer-paul-ryan-103057.html#ixzz2sNpXrFbC