By Alexander Bolton - 02/04/14 02:55 PM EST
The Hill

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he does not see any way the Democratic-controlled Senate and GOP-led House will agree on immigration reform legislation this year.

McConnell’s comments, which came after he met with the Senate GOP conference over lunch, poured cold water over the growing buzz there could be an immigration deal this year.

McConnell said a deal’s unlikely given what he called the “irresolvable” differences between the Senate and House.

“I think we have sort of an irresolvable conflict here,” he told reporters. “The Senate insists on comprehensive [legislation]. The House says it won’t go to conference with the Senate on comprehensive and wants to look at [it] step by step.

“I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place,” he said.

Senate Democrats say immigration legislation must include all the major components of reform, tying a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants with border security and worker visa provisions.

House GOP leaders released a set of immigration reform principles last week during a three-day retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The principles largely reflect the Senate-passed bill but does not include a direct path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.

McConnell, however, said Tuesday he thinks the bigger obstacle is that Senate Democrats want to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws in one large package while House Republicans want piecemeal reform.

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said a comprehensive package is unpalatable to many Republicans.

“I think the problem isn’t so much the principles, it’s how legislation actually gets passed an we find consensus and that’s the challenge,” he said. “The Senate bill is a non-starter because it just reminds people of ObamaCare, another big expensive bill with a lot of moving parts.”