Hoyer warns GOP: Don’t dabble with DACA compromise bill

Hoyer warns GOP: Don’t dabble with DACA compromise bill
© Greg Nash

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton Hoyer5 things to watch as Trump, Dems clash over investigations GOP lawmaker: Trump has engaged in multiple actions that 'meet the threshold for impeachment' Maxine Waters: Parts of Trump immigration plan are 'very racist' MORE (D-Md.) warned Republicans on Tuesday not to dabble with a bipartisan immigration bill that would provide legal protections to people who came to the country illegally as children.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act Iraq War vet Ortiz Jones sets up rematch against Hurd in Texas MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarPro-business Dem group sees boost in fundraising Left flexes muscle in immigration talks Immigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security MORE (D-Calif.), would combine the protections for so-called “Dreamers” with new efforts to bolster security at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The proposal is one of four immigration bills that would be considered if centrist Republicans are successful with their procedural maneuver, known as a discharge petition, to force immigration votes on the House floor over the objection of GOP leaders.

The Hurd-Aguilar proposal is thought to have the best chance of winning a “queen-of-the-hill” contest in which the four bills are considered back-to-back and the proposal with the most votes, beyond 218, goes to the Senate. But some Democrats are growing increasingly concerned that the Republicans may try to add tougher enforcement provisions, favored by conservatives, to win the support of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE.

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Hoyer on Tuesday said Democrats favor a more liberal proposal, the Dream Act, to rescue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump is fighting to wind down. But he noted that the Hurd-Aguilar bill enjoys more support with Republicans, and predicted that Democrats would unite with centrist Republicans to sink any proposed changes to the bipartisan legislation.

“I think Hurd-Aguilar has got the votes to pass as-is, and I think we’ve got the votes to defeat amendments,” Hoyer said. “I think that’s what our strategy will be.”

The centrist Republicans are hoping to win 218 signatures on their discharge petition by the end of Tuesday — a deadline that would force immigration votes on June 25. The petition currently has 215 signatures, but the list of potential Republican signatories is a short one, and it’s unclear if any more are willing to buck their leadership and sign on.

A failure to win 218 signatures before Wednesday would mean the moderates would have just one more shot, on July 23, to force DACA votes before November’s midterm elections.

The debate has highlighted the sharp divide within the Republican conference when it comes to immigration issues, particularly the question of how to approach the millions of people living in the country illegally.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDebate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 Liz Cheney faces a big decision on her future MORE (R-Wis.) and other GOP leaders are scrambling to seal a deal between the centrists and conservatives in their conference, which would defuse the petition and prevent votes on the more liberal bills — including the Dream Act and Hurd-Aguilar — that would be discharged if the device is successful.

Hoyer, for his part, said Ryan’s motives are strictly political.

“The Speaker doesn’t want to bring [the Dream Act] to the floor because he doesn’t want his members to vote against a bill — as they will — that the overwhelming majority of the American people thinks makes sense,” Hoyer said.

“It’s not that Donald Trump won’t sign it or the Senate won’t pass it. It’s they don’t want their members to be spotted.”