U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford believes Congress ultimately will pass an immigration reform bill that contains a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers already in the U.S.
Although the U.S. House likely won't take up the entire bill that passed the U.S. Senate, Sanford said the House probably will pass "micro bills that are palatable to the body," dealing with individual provisions such as high-tech workers and agricultural workers.
But once House and Senate members get together to meld the competing bills into one, Sanford said the pathway to citizenship contained in the Senate version likely will remain, regardless of opposition from conservative congressmen.
"Once it leaves House, I think it will be the Senate side that prevails," he said Monday.
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Sanford supports a path to citizenship after U.S. borders have been secured, he said.
Sanford, who won a special election for a seat in the U.S. House in May, spoke to reporters outside the weekly meeting of the Sunset Rotary of Hilton Head Island. The event, which attracted about two dozen members, was held at Palmetto Bay Marina.
Inside, he met and shook hands with club members. He left after about 40 minutes for a Lions Club gathering in Beaufort.
It's not clear when Sanford's staff reached out to the group to discuss his appearance. Several who attended said they learned Sanford was coming after reading about it in The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette over the weekend.
Club president Peter Laman said attracting the congressman to the meeting was "a nice thing to happen."
During a quick interview outside the event, Sanford was optimistic Congress would adopt legislation that reduces the interest rate on student loans from its current 6.8 percent. The rate doubled July 1 after competing proposals to reduce the rate from its current level failed.
The Republican-controlled House's student-loan fix calls for rates to float based on the 10-year Treasury note. The Democratic-controlled Senate wants rates to be capped for the life of a loan.
"... I think at the end of the day, I think the Senate and White House perspective prevails, so you will see something locked in in terms of rates," Sanford said.
He declined to comment on whether a date has been set for a wedding to his fiancee Maria Belen Chapur of Argentina.
"I am not going to make news here today," he said.
Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey.