Posted on June 13, 2018

House GOP Leaders Defeat Effort by Moderates to Force a Vote on Bipartisan Legislation for ‘Dreamers’

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2018

In effort by moderate Republicans to force votes on a bipartisan immigration bill failed in the House on Tuesday, with members agreeing instead to vote on legislation that would guarantee funds for President Trump’s proposed border wall.

The agreement meant defeat, at least for now, for an effort led by Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock and other GOP moderates to use a rare parliamentary maneuver known as a discharge petition to force the House to vote on the bipartisan immigration plan, and three other bills, over the objections of party leaders.

The dissident Republicans, frustrated by Congress’ failure to resolve the legal status of “Dreamers” — people brought to the U.S. illegally as children — had combined with the chamber’s Democrats to try to force a vote on a plan that would offer the young immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

Defeat of the effort greatly reduces the chances — already slim — that Congress could pass any form of Dreamer legislation before this year’s midterm election.


Tuesday evening, with the petition stuck at 216 signatures, the moderates backed down, accepting a proposal by Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to put aside their effort and instead have the House debate two bills next week — both of which have only Republican support.


One bill would be a hard-line immigration enforcement proposal backed by conservatives that even its supporters acknowledge doesn’t have enough support to pass the House.

The other, touted by Ryan as a compromise, was still being cobbled together by GOP leaders late Tuesday, and key provisions were uncertain. Earlier versions of that bill would have given an opportunity for citizenship to some Dreamers, providing visas to them by eliminating the current diversity lottery visa program.

While the exact provisions remain unclear, what does seem all but certain is that neither proposal would receive the backing of Democrats or be able to pass the Senate. Both measures would include new immigration restrictions and money for Trump’s border wall, which Democrats oppose.


On the House floor, those who pushed the discharge petition lamented the lost chance for bipartisan debate on immigration legislation.


House leaders warned that forcing votes on an immigration measure that could be portrayed as amnesty for illegal immigrants would risk alienating conservative voters and depressing Republican turnout in the midterm, potentially handing control of the House to Democrats.

Many of the moderates, however, like Denham, represent districts with large numbers of Latino voters and have felt political pressure to resolve the legislative stalemate over the Dreamers.


Prospects for a legislative solution to the issue remain dim. Even if one of the bills under consideration next week passes the House, a party-line measure on immigration would not have the support to get through the Senate.