A House of Representatives working group has reached a deal on agricultural workers in the immigration bill it is crafting, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said on Saturday morning.
Immigration has emerged as a key focus for Congress after the November elections, and much of the attention has focused on a Senate overhaul bill. But Pelosi, speaking at a press conference during the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento, noted that a House group has also been at work on the issue. She said she received an early morning phone call on Saturday from Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers, saying an agreement had been reached on the part of the legislation dealing with farm workers.
The Senate immigration group reportedly reached a tentative pact on farm workers earlier this week. When asked whether the provision in the House bill was aligned with the Senate piece, Pelosi said only that "it satisfies Arturo." She added that she would like to see Congress pass an immigration bill by the August recess.
Pelosi also discussed the prospects for gun control, an issue that has lost momentum in Congress after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut prompted legislators to seek tougher gun laws. On the issue of reinstating a ban on assault weapons, Pelosi said that "public sentiment is everything."
"If the public wants it, we will get to that," she said.
But if Congress is unable to prohibit assault weapons, Pelosi said, that should give lawmakers even more of an incentive to strengthen background checks.
"If (assault weapons) are not banned it argues even more strongly for the most serious background checks," Pelosi said.
While speaking earlier in the morning at a general session, Pelosi stressed California's role in helping Democrats retake a majority in the House of Representatives. When a reporter floated the theory that Republicans could have a permanent structural House majority, buttressed by favorable redistricting, Pelosi replied that "I completely and entirely reject that" and suggested that Republicans were able to seize control of the House in 2010 thanks to a surge of campaign spending.
PHOTO CREDIT: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, speaks to reporters on Saturday in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Jeremy B. White