WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve King is so dissatisfied with the immigration debate now raging in the U.S. Capitol that he wants to take the discussion outside onto the lawn.
The Republican congressman from northwest Iowa is officially calling his event today a press conference, but he said that title stems only from the permit rules that allow members to use the grounds around the Capitol for press conferences.
Whatever you call it, the event is expected to last six hours, with a two-hour break in the middle.
“It's probably the longest press conference in the history of Congress,” King told The World-Herald. “There's a lot of topics that will not be debated under the path that I see coming from Congress here, so we're going to air it out in public.”
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck will be there as well as a number of other prominent foes of immigration legislation.
King has been outspoken in opposing any proposal that includes a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally.
His event comes as legislation that includes such a pathway is gaining fresh momentum, thanks to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
That CBO report found that the legislation now moving through the Senate would reduce the federal deficit by $197 billion over 10 years and by $700 billion more in the following decade as a result of a boost in economic activity and millions joining the ranks of the legal, tax-paying workforce.
The White House and other supporters quickly hailed that report as evidence that the measure would help the economy and the federal balance sheet, while critics focused on the report's finding that the bill would cause average wages to decline through 2025 and cause a slight uptick in unemployment.
The Senate continues to work on amendments to the legislation, which could get a final vote before July 4.
So far the key sticking points have revolved around border security, with Republicans pushing to delay any legalization until after the southern border is effectively sealed.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., touted one proposal he helped author that would encourage the Homeland Security Department to recruit military personnel and veterans to work in border security.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., backed an amendment aimed at expediting the legalization process for decorated war veterans.
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee advanced an enforcement-centered bill that would crack down on those living in the country illegally. Protesters briefly disrupted the start of the hearing.
During the hearing, King reiterated his criticism of the Obama administration's decision not to prioritize the deportations of those who were brought to the country illegally when they were young children. The House recently approved King's legislation to roll back that policy.
While the Senate bill appears headed for a vote, any talk of compromise in the House appeared distant as Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sought to reassure conservatives who have expressed fears that he will allow legislation to come up this summer that they oppose and Democrats support.
One official who attended the closed-door meeting quoted Boehner as saying he has no intention of allowing a bill to come up that would violate the principles of the GOP majority and split its ranks.
The speaker also made clear that legislation must satisfy Republican concerns about border security, according to the official.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.