The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which had reportedly warned President Obama that it will vote against health care reform if it includes the Senate's provision blocking illegal immigrants from getting coverage, appears to be backing off that pledge: TPMDC's Christina Bellantoni reports that Congressional Hispanic Caucus members won't block health reform if the White House assures them that it will move forward with comprehensive immigration reform before the end of the year--reform that, CHC members are demanding, will address health care reform for undocumented aliens.
Comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship is a difficult thing to pass--possibly as difficult as health care reform. The last time Congress tried it was in 2007, when Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy worked together to craft a bill that also had the imprimatur of President Bush, who sought to rally what was left of his troops around immigration as the last sizable domestic initiative of his presidency. Despite its bipartisan genesis, it failed in a series of votes in June. The closest it got was a 50 to 45 vote against cloture. Democrats now hold 60 seats, so it may be easier this time around, giving them nine more votes, but, if the 2007 attempt is a model for the next immigration reform push, it's a tough deficit to overcome.
UPDATE: A Congressional Hispanic Caucus spokesperson disputed TPMDC's report, saying, "The CHC's position remains the same: it opposes provisions in the Senate health care bill that would negatively impact immigrants."
Bellantoni reported that, according to her sources, CHC members would not admit to any such deal publicly--so it should be acknowledged that the denial fits with the narrative those sources presented--but the CHC is on record disputing it.
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