With the Senate poised to pass a comprehensive immigration package this week, Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill., said the upper chamber's "Gang of Eight" bill is essentially dead on arrival in the House of Representatives.
"The House has no capacity to move that bill," he said. "The House won't be rolled."
National Review invited a small group of reporters to join Roskam for an on-the-record breakfast this morning at its Capitol Hill offices. "The bigger the bill, the more difficult it will be to pass," Roskam said.
The prospects of a successful bill in the lower chamber rely on the ability to break it down into smaller components, beginning with border security, he added.
Roskam admitted that the U.S. immigration system is a "nagging problem" but he said he has not taken a deep dive into the Senate's legislation because he does not believe the House will ever vote on it.
Roskam, who served with President Obama in the Illinois State Senate, also questioned the sincerity of the president and congressional Democrats in wanting to pass meaningful overhaul.
"Immigration is a powerful tool" for Democrats heading into the midterm election, he said. "How much is the White House willing to give up to get a remedy?"
He said he believes the White House is on its heels as the president's signature law, the Affordable Care Act, unravels. He pointed at President Obama's slumping approval rating, which rivals the paltry level of President George W. Bush's marks just before the 2006 midterm election, which swung control of the House to Democrats.
Asked whether he could personally support a pathway to citizenship, Roskam begged off, saying he'd need to study the issue hard before coming to a decision.
Roskam, who also sits on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, said the Internal Revenue Service's review, which found some progressives were targeted in addition to conservative organizations, is simply a "red flag in front of a pole."
Unlike tea party groups, no progressive groups have come forward to show they were subject to enhanced scrutiny, he said. Moreover, he said the "be on the lookout," or BOLO, lists show that officials in Cincinnati had the authority to ultimately approve progressive cases, but sent tea party cases to Washington for further scrutiny.
"The IRS doesn't have any credibility," he said.
Roskam and the Ways and Means committee will hear testimony this morning from IRS Acting Director Daniel Werfel on the issue.