POLITICS: PennAve

John Boehner mum on what House immigration deal should look like

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With the Senate just hours away from a final vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was still refusing to offer any insight into what he is looking for in a similar compromise on his side of the Capitol.

Boehner has been playing coy on the pending immigration debate, fearing his own input could threaten what he most wants — a compromise that appeases a majority of his caucus while winning over House Democrats.

"The worst thing in the world that can happen is for me to take some specific" stance, Boehner said. "All that's going to do is slow down the progress."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was much more insistent on what the final bill must include: a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S., similar to the proposal brewing in the Senate.

"What's the point of having a bill, just to say we have a bill?" Pelosi asked. "The solution is to have a path to citizenship, to have a country where we don't have different classes of people."

Many conservatives lawmakers in the House are against creating an opportunity for the country's illegal immigrants to obtain permanent citizenship, likening it to amnesty for lawbreakers.

Boehner, however, did say he wants the House to take up its own bill and to tackle the issue in chunks, quite different than the all-or-nothing bill the Senate will vote on as early as Thursday afternoon.

For her part, Pelosi is fine with that, as long as it does not veer too far from the compromise the House's Gang of Seven has proposed.

The House will take up immigration after the July 4 recess.

"The committee is taking piecemeal approach to different bills, and I think some of them are unacceptable, but on the other hand, let's put it together," Pelosi said. "If the speaker wants to have a House bill, I fully share that sentiment."

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