Top GOP donor threatens to stop giving to lawmakers over DACA battle

Top GOP donor threatens to stop giving to lawmakers over DACA battle
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A prominent Illinois Republican donor and pro-immigrant business leader is threatening to close his wallet over immigration legislation.

John Rowe, a former Exelon chairman, told Politico that he would stop making campaign donations to GOP lawmakers who do not join the Democratic-led effort to force a House vote on legislation related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“Every member of the Illinois delegation knows this is one of the most important issues facing them and it determines how much money I’m giving them,” Rowe said.

GOP leaders in recent weeks have been urging rank-and-file members not to sign a discharge petition to force a vote, saying it would hand power to the Democrats and “disunify” the Republican majority.

So far, 20 GOP lawmakers have signed the petition. Only 25 are necessary, along with all Democrats, to force a vote on DACA, which protects young people known as "Dreamers," who came to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation.

No Illinois Republicans have signed the petition yet. Illinois has the fourth-largest population of Dreamers in the U.S.

“This is the home state of Abraham Lincoln,” Rowe said. “We’re betraying our entire heritage if we don’t get this done.”

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE rescinded DACA last September, and lawmakers have yet to reach a deal on legislation to protect the estimated 800,000 Dreamers in the U.S. while satisfying Trump’s immigration demands, such as funding for his proposed border wall.

Rowe has given more than half a million dollars to campaigns in the past three years, according to Politico. In recent weeks, he has focused his fundraising efforts on pro-immigration Republicans, like Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloRepublicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP MORE (Fla.).

Rowe told Politico that he has made it clear to GOP lawmakers, including House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse passes historic legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Republicans root for Sanders nomination in battle for House Scalise after Democrat asks for examples of Sanders supporters 'being bad': 'I can think of an example' MORE (La.), that he is not alone in his threats to withhold donations.

“There’s a whole bunch of Republicans like me who simply aren’t going to keep giving money if you don’t get an immigration bill done,” Rowe said he told Scalise.