Rubio blames shaky support for immigration on Obamacare

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 9, 2014 

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the architects of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration plan, told reporters Thursday their immigration plan is too big and no longer viable.

He blames Obamacare.

The possible 2016 presidential candidate was a bipartisan member of the so-called Gang of Eight group of senators who drafted the bill last spring that would increase border security and provide a path to citizenship for the many of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. But the Republican-led House has refused to take up the issue.

Rubio blames Obama's handling of the health care law. Americans simply don't trust the administration, Rubio said, when it has repeatedly ignored the as law written in the Affordable Care Act.

The fear, he said, is the administration won’t enforce immigration law either.

“People say you’ll get the legalization, but you’ll never get the enforcement,” he said.

Blaming lack of support for immigration on Obamacare is a message that appears to be growing among the GOP. Texas Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson announced WHEN? they were leaving a bipartisan House team working on legislation because, among other reasons, of Obamacare. They said the administration had “changed, waived or delayed key provisions with a single stroke of a pen.” And Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho left the same bipartisan group months earlier over concerns about how health care benefits would be paid.

Rubio says he now prefers a series of smaller bills that address the different segments of the immigration issue.

Rubio has always been, as one analyst said, “a reluctant bride,” when it came to his support for the Senate proposal. His ongoing -- and public -- resistance to the legislation as it was being written last spring led many, including the authors, to question his commitment.

In October, he encouraged House members to pursue a series of bills to solve the issue instead of taking a comprehensive approach like he and the senators did. Rubio said that was his original preference before he got involved with the Senate gang.

Immigration has become a thorn in Rubio’s political ambition. He was once seen as the true conservative who could possibly lead the tea party to the White House in 2016. He’s still considered a contender, but his support for the immigration plan hurt his standing with many conservatives, who’ve accused him of flip-flopping.

Rubio’s statements were made just hours after House Speaker John Boehner announced that House leaders were working on a set of guideposts to help them draft legislation.

“We thought it would be appropriate to outline standards, principles that would guide us in a common-sense, step-by-step approach to dealing with immigration,” Boehner said. “I would expect in the coming weeks that we'll have those available."

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