A bipartisan group of House members are close to putting the final touches on a comprehensive immigration bill and have already met with party leaders to brief them, aides said Friday.

A spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner said that Boehner had a good talk Friday with Republicans in the group and that the lawmakers have made real progress.

The group's four Democrats met Thursday with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Pelosi's spokesman said she's optimistic about the prospects for reform.

The group had hoped to release their bill around the time of the State of the Union last month, but now an aide says they will aim for early April, once Congress returns from a two-week recess.

That's the same timeline that a negotiating group in the Senate is on. The Senate group has gotten more attention because House GOP leaders are expected to wait to see what if anything the Senate passes on immigration before taking any action on the issue.

A sweeping immigration bill is a tougher lift in the Republican-controlled House because of the conservatives who dominate the Republican conference, and members of the House immigration group have been struggling to write a bill that can have broad appeal. It remains unclear how they will handle a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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