Labrador Abandons House 'Gang of 8' Immigration Talks
After almost falling apart today, the House "Gang of 8? lives on, as a "Gang of 7."
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, left the group after saying he could not come to an agreement with the other members on health care, sources within the meeting among the bipartisan group of representatives told ABC News.
While the House effort to write a comprehensive immigration bill survives, the loss of Labrador, a tea party Hispanic with ties to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is viewed as a critical loss, even by Democrats.
Labrador was expected to play a key role in the House, similar to that of Marco Rubio in the Senate. It might be more difficult without him to bring red state conservatives along on a bill.
The remaining three Republicans, Reps. John Carter of Texas, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Sam Johnson of Texas agreed to stay because, sources say, they "want a bill" and will continue to "work on a bill."
The Democratic members of the House gang are Reps. Xavier Becerra of California, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Zoe Lofgren of California and John Yarmuth of Kentucky.
The struggle for agreement came when Republicans wanted to include language in the bill that would make undocumented immigrants responsible for 100 percent of their own medical expenses, in full.
Under current law, hospitals are required to give emergency care to anyone who walks in to a facility in need. The individual pays what they qualify for and Medicaid picks up the remainder, reimbursing the hospital for the difference.
Republicans wanted the undocumented immigrants personally responsible - out-of-pocket - for all the health care costs they incur.
Democrats suggested the creation of a fund or a pool of money to which the 11 million undocumented immigrants would contribute to take care of any of health care costs for the 11 million.
But Labrador wasn't going to budge, according to sources.
The remaining seven will continue drafting legislation for comprehensive immigration overhaul, but health care has been removed completely from the debates.
In essence, the remaining three Republicans and four Democrats have agreed that they will not come to an agreement and will leave things status quo.
The House language will thus be similar to that of the Senate's version, ignoring the issue. The House version is also expected to leave out the topic of future flows.