Politics

Pro-DACA Republicans Seeking To Force Vote On Replacement Bill

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

At least 18 Republican lawmakers are defying the party’s House leadership in an effort to force a vote on several proposals that would codify legal protections for younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

The group of renegade Republicans is circulating what is known as a discharge petition. Rarely used by a majority party, the petition would trigger a floor vote on four immigration bills — with the measure receiving the most votes above a simple majority being the one to advance out of the House.

The effort comes as a moderate faction within the House GOP caucus has grown impatient with the lack of progress on a legislative replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — the Obama-era executive amnesty shielding roughly 700,000 younger illegal immigrants from deportation.

President Donald Trump rescinded DACA in September 2017 and gave lawmakers until March 2018 to reach a compromise that would trade DACA protections in exchange for tighter border security and some immigration restrictions. Multple federal court rulings have since forced the administration to resume processing DACA renewals, removing some of the urgency for lawmakers to pass a bill. (RELATED: It Looks Like DACA Is Going To Last Another Year. Here’s Why)

Still, some GOP lawmakers are demanding House Speaker Paul Ryan allow various DACA replacement bills to come up for a floor vote in the near future. Most of those who have signed the discharge petition, filed by Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, represent districts with significant Hispanic constituencies, and they are eager to cast a pro-DACA vote before the 2018 midterm elections.

Ryan has expressed displeasure with the discharge petition tactic, saying it would only produce “show ponies” the president would almost certainly veto. The GOP caucus should only vote on bills that have Trump’s approval, Ryan has previously said.

“We continue to work with our members to find a solution that can both pass the House and get the president’s signature,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement, according to Roll Call.

Under House rules, a discharge petition that receives 218 signatures triggers a so-called “queen of the hill” process, which multiple bills come up for a floor vote, and the one receiving the most votes above a majority wins.

In the case of Curbelo’s discharge petition, four immigration measures would be considered, including a tough, enforcement-oriented bill from Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte and a version of the DREAM Act from California Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard.

Ryan has sought to build support for the Goodlatte bill, which is a conservative favorite and has been endorsed by the White House. But pro-DACA Republicans in Curbelo’s camp are hesitant to support it because it doesn’t offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.

“We’ve wanted to work with our leadership, and we knew that they were working this Goodlatte bill, and we wanted to give them time to do that, even though I was always very skeptical about it,” Curbelo said, according to Roll Call. “And too much time has passed.”

As of Thursday afternoon, 18 Republican House members had signed Curbelo’s petition, according to the House clerk. Assuming all 193 House Democrats join the effort, Curbelo would need seven more GOP signatures to trigger the queen of the hill rule.

Republicans who’ve signed the petition:

  • Carlos Curbelo – Florida
  • Jeff Denham – California
  • David G. Valadao – California
  • Will Hurd – Texas
  • Mario Diaz-Balart – Florida
  • Mia B. Love – Utah
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – Florida
  • Charles W. Dent – Pennsylvania
  • Fred Upton – Michigan
  • David G. Reichert – Washington
  • Mike Coffman – Colorado
  • Chris Collins – New York
  • John J. Faso – New York
  • Mark E. Amodei – Nevada
  • Elise M. Stefanik – New York
  • Leonard Lance – New Jersey
  • Ryan A. Costello – Pennsylvania
  • Stephen Knight – California

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette as a Republican. She is a Democrat.

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