GOP lawmaker says he has enough support to force immigration votes
A Republican congressman said Tuesday he’s rounded up enough GOP co-sponsors to force multiple immigration votes on the House floor.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) told The Hill that he has secured support from more than 40 House Republicans on a resolution that would allow debate and votes on four separate immigration proposals.
The four bills that would be considered are the conservative bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); a Democratic measure that would be the Dream Act; a bill offered by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that would mirror President Trump’s immigration plan; and the bipartisan USA Act, a narrow bill limited to border security measures and protecting so-called Dreamers.
“It’s time for us to have a full debate in front of the American public,” Denham told The Hill.
Denham’s resolution would initiate the “Queen of the Hill” rule, under which the bill that receives the most votes and surpasses the 218-vote threshold would be adopted by the House. If all bills fail to reach 218, they all would be rejected.
With 41 Republican votes and all Democrats in support, the rule could be forced through without going through committee or gaining approval from leadership.
At least 218 votes — a simple majority of the 435 members of the House — are needed to force a vote without consent from the House leadership, what’s known as a discharge petition. All 192 Democrats are expected to support the effort, but Denham said his Democratic ally, Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), is still rounding up co-sponsors on his side of the aisle.
Denham’s announcement came on the same day Ryan and his leadership team held an in-depth discussion behind closed doors about the immigration issue, GOP leaders told The Hill.
Leaders said they were trying to make “tweaks” to the Goodlatte bill to make it more palatable to a broader array of the GOP conference. The legislation currently doesn’t have the votes to pass the House.
GOP sources said the leadership discussion was spurred by Trump’s tweets and other public comments demanding Congress fund his border wall. Trump canceled the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and called on Congress to find a legislative replacement.
But because of a court injunction, DACA recipients still have their benefits. Other Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors, are still subject to deportation.
“We continue to work toward a viable solution that addresses both DACA and securing our border,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.
The Goodlatte bill would tighten border security and interior enforcement, and it would grant renewable three-year permits to DACA recipients, but wouldn’t give them a special pathway to citizenship.
The Dream Act, co-sponsored by Reps. Lucille Roybal Allard (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), would grant an automatic special path to citizenship to more than 3 million Dreamers.
The USA Act, co-sponsored by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Peter Aguilar (D-Calif.), would combine elements of the Dream Act with border security provisions, but not interior enforcement.
“If it’s a viable solution and it doesn’t cross our red lines, then we’d be willing to get on board with it. And this qualifies,” said a House Democratic aide who’s familiar with the issue.
Melanie Zanona contributed.
This post was corrected at 11:33 p.m. to clarify that Denham’s resolution is not itself a discharge petition, but a rule that would initiate “Queen of the Hill” proceedings.