SIOUX CITY | U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, doesn't agree with House Speaker John Boehner on the need for immigration reform, and King said it remains to be seen whether their disagreements will diminish King's effectiveness in the chamber.
King told the Journal editorial board on Thursday he thinks immigration reform talks in Congress should be halted because the plan that passed in the Senate contains a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants, which King calls amnesty.
King said there are more pressing national issues and that passing a bad immigration reform plan would be harmful. But he said Boehner wants to move ahead with discussions in the House, which King said is problematic.
"(Boehner) clearly is for some kind of amnesty," King said.
Boehner was among Republicans who blasted King after his July 23 comment that some children of illegal immigrants are drug smugglers. King said that after Boehner chided him, he quickly wondered whether his effectiveness in the House could be undercut. That question is still unresolved, King said.
"We'll see whether my effectiveness is greater or less," the congressman said.
King said House colleagues continue to treat him warmly, so he figures he's on solid ground with them as they work on other pieces of legislation.
King's much-publicized July comment about the children came in an interview, when he said, “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
Boehner called King's statement "deeply offensive." King told the editorial board that Boehner's comments probably came on advice from key aides and that Boehner failed to adhere to the "11th Commandment" that former President Ronald Regan advised, to not speak ill of other Republicans.
"It wasn't measured or thoughtful," King said of Boehner's criticism.
King said there will be heat in the House as Republicans across the political spectrum try to come to a resolution on what to do about immigration when they return from a five-week recess in September.
"We've got a family discussion that needs to go on. And it will get intense behind closed doors," King said.
The Senate bill that advanced to the House seeks to create a 13-year process for people in the U.S. illegally to become citizens, as long as fines are paid and they meet certain criteria. The legislation also would spend $46 billion to secure the border, expand visa programs to allow high- and low-skilled workers into the U.S., and require employers to check the legal status of workers.