Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House

Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of House members on Tuesday will introduce a long-rumored bill to replace an Obama-era program shielding certain immigrants who came to the United States as young people from deportation.

The bill, which would also bolster border security, is backed by a group of lawmakers led by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms GOP rep: Phone number for HHS conference call on family reunifications didn’t work Immigration: Too much noise, too little thought MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarImmigration compromise underlines right’s clout Pelosi, Dems hammer GOP for ‘derailing’ DACA debate Hoyer warns GOP: Don’t dabble with DACA compromise bill MORE (D-Calif.). They claim to have more than 40 members from both parties backing their bill.

The United and Securing America (USA) Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients “while achieving operational control of the border,” said Hurd.

Some of the DACA’s 690,000 recipients, those unable to renew their permits before an October deadline, have already started losing their status. If Congress fails to act before March, the attrition rate will increase from an average of 120 recipients a day to thousands per day, until the last permits expire in late 2019 or early 2020.

“We must act immediately. We must provide them with certainty,” said Aguilar.

The group’s sponsors said they'd be open to amendments and putting the bill through regular order, but said they have 80 hours — until government funding runs out on Friday — to introduce the bill and run it through Congress.

“Many of us believe that a narrow, bipartisan approach is the way to solve this problem,” said Hurd.

The bill will face challenges from the right and left, and competition from rival measures supported by influential leaders in the House and Senate.

Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFormer FBI lawyer Lisa Page gets closed-door grilling from House Republicans 5 takeaways from wild hearing with controversial FBI agent GOP lawmaker asks FBI agent about lying to wife over affair MORE (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced a proposal last week with fellow Republican Reps. Raúl Labrador (Idaho), Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulA change is coming to US-Mexico relations Hillicon Valley: Justices uphold Trump travel ban | Tech's response | Accused NSA leaker enters guilty plea | Dems press for more info on OPM breach | Senators press Trump to uphold ZTE ban | New hacking threat to satellites Rising concerns over hackers using satellites to target US MORE (Texas) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyElection Countdown: Calls to abolish ICE test Dem candidates | First round of House GOP 'Young Guns' | How Tester is handling Trump's Montana visit | Dem candidate won't back Schumer as leader | Super PACs ramp up Missouri ad buys GOP Senate candidate’s husband spreads conspiracy theories online: report Ariz. GOP Senate hopeful touts her backing of Trump, border security MORE (Ariz.) that would grant fewer and temporary protections only to DACA recipients, in exchange for a wide range of border security and immigration enforcement provisions.

While Democrats and some Republicans, including 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.), an outspoken GOP proponent of immigration reform, labeled the Goodlatte bill a “non-starter,” its powerful list of sponsors all but guarantees it'll be prioritized by Republican leadership.

But the Goodlatte bill seems unlikely to win a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

The USA Act also faces competition from a bipartisan Senate bill crafted by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts: report Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs MORE (R-S.C.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinKavanaugh paper chase heats up Senate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-Ill.), which was shot down by Trump Thursday.

Durbin pledged to keep pushing his bill with the hope of forcing Trump to sign a bipartisan agreement.

Durbin and Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies for Putin summit: 'He’s not my enemy’ Overnight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Lawmakers demand answers from Mnuchin on tariffs | Fed chief lays out stakes of Trump trade war | Consumer prices rise at highest rate in six years | Feds to appeal AT&T merger ruling MORE (R-Ariz.), a supporter of the Senate measure, have called it “the only game in town.”

But Hurd disputed that assessment, saying, “It’s not the only game in town because you have more than 40 Republicans and Democrats with a thoughtful, smart approach."

More and more Democrats are pledging to withhold their vote on any spending measure unless a DACA fix is passed, forcing leadership to work on another temporary spending bill rather than funding the government for an entire year.

That’s increased the chances of a shutdown, and the possibility that Republicans might need Democratic votes in the House to pass even a temporary measure.

Rep. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamDems call for family reunification plan from Trump administration House panel rejects amendment barring family separations Live coverage: High drama as hardline immigration bill fails, compromise vote delayed MORE (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said her group would stick to its pledge to vote against any spending measure unless DACA was resolved. She also signaled some openness to negotiate if a hard-line strategy put at risk the immigration benefits sought under a DACA fix. 

“If we don't get a vote, I think that strategy will stay. But we also don't want any strategies to keep us from prevailing, though there's been nothing to change the caucus's strategy to date,” she said.