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GOP lawmakers back discharge petition to force immigration votes

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Fifteen House Republicans have signed on to a discharge petition filed Wednesday that is intended to force votes on a series of immigration measures — including legislation to protect so-called Dreamers.

The discharge petition, which is intended to force legislation from a committee, would lead to a floor vote if a majority of House members sign on to it.

Democrats have been pressing for an immigration vote in the House and would be expected to back the petition. If all House Democrats sign it, it would need 25 Republican signatories to force a vote. 

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GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.) filed the motion, and was quickly joined by Republican Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Will Hurd (Texas), Mario Díaz Balart (Fla.) and David Valadao (Calif.) as initial sponsors.

All five are in competitive races this year. The Cook Political Report lists Curbelo’s and Denham’s races as tossups.

By midafternoon, 15 Republicans had signed the petition.
 
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) — who is retiring at the end of the year — and Mia Love (Utah) were the first new signatories.
 
They were followed by Reps. Charlie Dent (Pa.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Chris Collins (N.Y.), John Faso (N.Y.), Mark Amodei (Nev.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).
 
Republicans who support immigration reform have grown increasingly frustrated at leadership over inaction on the issue, and the filing of the petition is an attempt to go around leadership to force a vote on the floor.

The discharge petition would specifically force a vote on a “Queen of the Hill” rule that would lead to votes on a series of competing immigration proposals. Which ever measure won the most votes would be the legislation approved by the House.  

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) dismissed the Queen of the Hill proposal when it was presented. That proposal garnered 248 co-sponsors, including 52 Republicans.

If the discharge petition does get 218 votes — per House rules, a discharge needs a majority of total membership regardless of vacancies — seven legislative days would have to pass before a floor vote. 

The House would then vote on the measure on either the second or fourth Monday of the month. No House votes are scheduled on a second or fourth Monday until July 23.
 
In rejecting the earlier push for a vote, Ryan has stuck to a promise he made to immigration hard-liners not to call a vote on the issue unless half the Republican Conference supports the measure.

The four proposals are all meant as a legislative replacements for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump rescinded in September.

Under DACA, around 690,000 Dreamers — immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors — were protected from deportation and allowed to work and go to school in the United States.

The Queen of the Hill rule that the GOP lawmakers have been pursuing would have the House choose between a hard-line proposal by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); the DREAM Act, a proposal that would give a path to citizenship to 1.8 million Dreamers; the USA Act, a measure that would pair the Dream Act with $25 billion in border security funding; and a yet-unnamed proposal of Ryan’s choosing.

Trump originally gave Congress until March 5 to find a replacement for DACA, but courts blocked Trump’s rescission, extending the program and, for the time being, rendering the deadline moot.

Updated at 12:35 p.m.

Tags Bob Goodlatte Carlos Curbelo Charlie Dent Chris Collins DACA Dave Reichert David Valadao Donald Trump Dreamers Elise Stefanik Fred Upton House Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Immigration Jeff Denham John Faso Kevin McCarthy Mark Amodei Mia Love Mike Coffman Paul Ryan Queen of the Hill Will Hurd
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