House Democratic leaders are teeing off on Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.) this week, saying he is the lone barrier to a bipartisan deal protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Ryan has repeatedly promised action on legislation to shore up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE is seeking to dismantle.
But six weeks after Trump’s March 5 deadline to end the program, no bill has reached the floor. And with November’s midterm elections inching closer, the prospects of a DACA fix this year are growing dimmer.
Democrats are feeling a new urgency — and more pressure from Hispanics in their base — to force the issue ahead of November. The effort is, to an increasing extent, focusing on Ryan, who recently announced his retirement at the end of the term — an oddly timed move that’s sparked some Democratic optimism that Ryan might “clean the barn” with a DACA fix on his way out.
Hoping to nudge Ryan in that direction, Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), vice chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, on Wednesday said that the Speaker is the “sole impediment” to an obtainable DACA agreement.
“If the Speaker would allow a bipartisan bill to come to the floor, we could pass it,” Sánchez said during a press briefing in the Capitol.
“We believe there is enough support within the Republican Caucus. But 100 of the most conservative members of that caucus are making policy for the rest of the United States.”
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), who heads the Democratic Caucus, also placed the blame for inaction squarely on the shoulders of GOP leaders.
“We need to have this opportunity ... because we know how desperate these individuals are,” Crowley said. “It’s a moral issue for these individuals, but it’s also an economic issue for our country.”
Democrats are not the only ones putting pressure on the Speaker. Vulnerable Republicans are also calling on Ryan to act before the midterms.
Behind Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamBottom line Bottom line Business groups breathe sigh of relief over prospect of divided government MORE (R-Calif.), a group of almost four dozen Republicans is urging GOP leaders to stage votes on four different immigration proposals providing varying degrees of protection to the so-called Dreamers. That “queen of the hill” process would allow the most popular bill to proceed to the Senate, as long as it received at least 218 votes.
“There are a number of bipartisan bills that address Dreamers and DACA recipients, and we are trying to force the Speaker, essentially, to give us a vote,” Sanchez said.
Yet on Tuesday, Ryan shot down that strategy, arguing there’s no use in voting on legislation the president won’t sign.
“I don't think it makes any sense to bring a bill through or a process through that would produce a bill that will get a presidential veto,” he said. “I just don't think that that's in anyone's interest.”
That reasoning marks a sharp shift from the Republicans’ strategy under President Obama, when GOP leaders voted on scores of bills that had no chance of becoming law — including legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act, which Obama would never have signed.
Ryan has accused the Democrats of blocking a DACA deal after they rejected an offer from GOP leaders to pair Dreamer protections with billions of dollars for new wall construction on the U.S.–Mexico border — a central promise of Trump’s campaign that remains a top priority of his administration.
“We offered them a solution for DACA in addition to pairing it with a solution for the border, and the Democrat leadership chose not to take that offer,” Ryan told reporters in the Capitol.
“We made that offer, and I haven't rescinded that offer.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are vowing to continue to press for a DACA vote this year — and to use the issue on the campaign trail if Ryan and the Republicans continue to refuse those entreaties.
“There remains a lot of commitment,” Sánchez said, “to try to make that vote a reality in this term.”