POLITICS
03/10/2013 12:21 pm ET Updated Mar 10, 2013

Kevin McCarthy: 'I Wouldn't Underestimate The House's Ability To Pass The Immigration Bill'

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the third-highest ranked Republican in the House, signaled Sunday that there is enough support in the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

"I wouldn't underestimate the House's ability to pass the immigration bill," McCarthy said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I think we have plenty of ideas on that, and I think there's an opportunity that we can move the ball as well."

McCarthy didn't go into any details, and he didn't clarify whether GOP support would extend to legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants -- a core provision demanded by Democrats but still rejected by many Republicans. Still, it is significant that McCarthy says there is enough support for a major immigration bill. In his position as the House Majority Whip, McCarthy is responsible for rounding up enough votes in his Conference to pass bills.

For now, all sides have agreed that the Senate will move first on immigration reform, and if a bill can pass there, it will head to the House. When asked on Sunday's show if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is prepared to bring a Senate-passed immigration bill to the House floor, even if it meant passing it without a majority of Republicans, McCarthy demurred, and suggested that the House and Senate may end up in a conference committee hashing out two different immigration bills.

"The speaker has talked about [how] it's better if the House does their work. We should be sending bills to the Senate. It's better if the House works the way it's designed, where the House passes a bill ... and the Senate passes a bill and then it goes to conference," McCarthy said. "He'll pass bills that Republicans are moving forward."

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