House rejects second GOP immigration bill

The House rejected a Republican compromise bill on immigration Wednesday in a worse-than-expected 121-300 vote, effectively ending a months-long GOP drama that had put the conference’s internal politics on display.

The measure won far fewer GOP votes than a more hard-line measure rejected last week in a 193-231 vote.

Only 121 Republicans backed it, compared to 193 for the earlier measure. Two Republicans did not cast votes on Wednesday, while 112 Republicans voted against it.

Votes on the bill were twice postponed to give Republicans more time to win support for the measure, which was opposed by Democrats.

ADVERTISEMENT
But conservatives never really warmed to it, and President Trump put down the effort on Twitter, at one point saying that Republicans should stop wasting their time since the bill was seen as dead on arrival in the Senate.

The compromise bill would have provided a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers, the issue that led centrist Republicans to launch a discharge petition to force a series of votes on immigration.

Discharge petitions are a way of getting around the House leadership to force a vote and are rarely used by members in the majority. Democrats backed those Republicans pushing the discharge petition to raise pressure on GOP leaders.

The decision to vote on the hard-line immigration measure last week and the compromise bill on Wednesday was part of a deal within the GOP conference that effectively quashed the petition.

Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloMueller indictments: Congressional candidate asked Russian operatives for info on opponent Lawmakers discuss efforts to boost Latino entrepreneurship On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump suggests China is easing pressure on North Korea because of trade fight | Mulvaney taps top aide as No. 2 at consumer bureau | House Republican to offer bill to curtail Trump's trade powers MORE (R-Fla.) — who introduced the discharge petition in May and co-sponsored the compromise bill — said moderates haven’t ruled out introducing another discharge petition.

“We will never refuse to use the legislative tools that James Madison afforded us,” he said.

The bill also earmarked $25 billion for Trump’s border wall and other security measures, ended the diversity visa lottery program and imposed limits on family-based migration.

The bill included a conservative proposal to end family separations at the border, an issue that has inflamed tensions.

The proposal would rescind what's known as the Flores settlement, which establishes minimum standards and a 20-day limit for detention of minors.

It's still possible the House could seek to take action on a narrower measure aimed at ending those separations, though the form is unclear. Several different bills are expected to be introduced in the House, and competing efforts are also underway in the Senate.

Conservative opposition centered in part on the Dreamers part of the measure, as some lawmakers saw providing a pathway to citizenship for those immigrants as "amnesty."

“From the beginning, it's been a tough, tough, tough road to get to anything that our members can agree on. Again, you have members in our conference that don't want to do anything, whatever we do is amnesty,” one GOP aide told the Hill.

Trump also made it difficult for GOP leaders to make any progress, though he did urge lawmakers to back the measure on Wednesday, in an all capital-letters tweet, hours before the vote.

“HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE. PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!” Trump tweeted.

Some Republicans, however, said they would have preferred to hear more from the president. Going into last weekend, some lawmakers had said they wanted to hear Trump say that a vote on the measure would not be a vote for amnesty.

Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September instigated much of the immigration work.

Trump initially asked Congress to come up with a legislative fix by March 5. Their failure to do so will leave the program’s future in the courts, or perhaps with the next Congress.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) — a conservative negotiator of the legislation who ultimately voted "no" on the measure — said he believes there were a number of problems with the bill, but feels they should continue talks to reach a consensus — despite Wednesday’s failure.

“I think there are 223 Republicans or 224 Republicans that can get to a yes, so now we need to work on that,” he told reporters.

Curbelo, however, said there are no meetings scheduled.

He said he was open to dialogue, and argued that “having the public whip count that we had today is very valuable to the future.”

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE Overnight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process Koch backs House measure opposing carbon taxes MORE (R-La.), who said he was unsurprised by the outcome, signaled the GOP is ready to move on.

“You know, if there's — if there is a bill that gets 218 Republicans, obviously that's something we'd be very interested in. A lot of months have been trying to get that kind of an agreement; it hasn't happened yet,” he said.

“If it happens somewhere along the way that's fine, but obviously there are a lot of other things that we have to work on to get our economy back on track and keep our country moving forward."