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Boehner hires well-known immigration policy expert

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) announced a series of moves among his junior staff Tuesday, including the addition of an immigration policy analyst who has worked for Republicans that have supported allowing undocumented immigrants to earn U.S. citizenship.

Boehner's office said that Rebecca Tallent, the director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, would be joining the staff on Wednesday. She is a former chief of staff to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former congressman Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), who have authored legislation establishing paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. McCain also was a lead sponsor of the bipartisan Senate immigration bill approved in June.

Boehner’s office described Tallent as "a well-known expert" in the immigration field who will help the House "enact step-by-step, common-sense immigration reforms — the kind of reforms the American people understand and support."

Haley Barbour, a Republican former governor of Mississippi and co-chair of the BPC's immigration task force, said Boehner's decision to hire Tallent "is affirmation of his strong desire to move legislation in 2014."

"Our work at the Bipartisan Policy Center demonstrates that it’s possible to develop immigration policy that addresses the interests of conservative Republicans, reform advocates and everyone in between," Barbour said in a statement.

The push to enact new immigration laws has stalled in the GOP-controlled House, where Boehner and his lieutenants have refused to consider the Senate bill and instead favor permitting committees to approve a series of standalone proposals.

Referring to that process, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Tuesday: "The speaker has been clear about his support for fixing our broken immigration system in a step-by-step way. Our House committees are going to continue their work to make progress on that goal."

Boehner''s office also announced these other staff moves Tuesday:

-- Tommy Andrews, previously senior staff assistant, will now serve as special assistant to the speaker.
-- Alex Becker, previously a staff assistant, will now serve as floor assistant in the Republican Cloakroom.  He replaces Andrew Bunker, who is now a legislative assistant in the speaker’s congressional office.
-- Natasha Eckard, previously legislative assistant in the speaker’s congressional office, has joined the Office of the Speaker as an assistant to the speaker for policy. Her portfolio includes transportation and infrastructure, agriculture and government reform issues.
-- Will Miller, succeeds Andrews as senior staff assistant and manager of the speaker’s correspondence center.
-- Mike Ricci, previously director of speechwriting, will now serve as deputy director of communications in the speaker’s press office.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.



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