Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 | 10:36 a.m.
U.S. Rep. Joe Heck lambasted his own party leadership today in a strongly worded statement reacting to news reports that the House may not bring immigration reform up for a vote this year.
"It’s extremely frustrating and very disappointing to hear reports that the House does not plan on voting on immigration reform legislation this year," Heck said in a written statement. "This is yet another example of the leadership vacuum in Washington that rightly has so many people frustrated with this dysfunctional Congress."
The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill earlier this year that includes strengthened border security provisions as well as a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally. To be eligible for legal status, those immigrants would have to meet a number of conditions including a clear criminal record, paying a fine and back taxes and waiting a minimum of 13 years to become eligible for citizenship.
But momentum behind the bill ground to a halt once it reached the House, as Republican lawmakers began crafting their own piecemeal immigration bills. Then the issue took a backseat to the frenzied debate over Syria and the government shutdown.
Heck, a Republican, is facing a competitive re-election bid in a district with large Hispanic and Asian voting blocks. He has spoken favorably about the Senate's immigration bill and had plans to draft his own bill addressing a pathway to legal status.
In his statement today, Heck expressed his growing frustration at the inability of House Republicans to address the issue.
"There are bills that have passed Committee that could be brought to the floor next week, but the House Republican leadership may punt the issue until 2014 for political reasons," Heck said. "That's very disappointing."