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Pelosi: GOP immigration bill is 'a compromise with the devil'

Pelosi: GOP immigration bill is 'a compromise with the devil'
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion: Treasury GOP has not done a good job of selling economic achievements, says ex-Trump adviser MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday charged Republicans with promoting cruelty to children at the border, characterizing the GOP’s compromise immigration bill as a deal with the devil.

The proposal, one of two immigration bills scheduled for a floor vote Thursday, involved no input from Democrats, but was hashed out between centrist and conservative Republicans who have long feuded over the appropriate legislative approach to those people living in the country illegally.

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Pelosi was quick to highlight the partisan nature of the debate, saying she’s had no conversations with House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight Paul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters MORE (R-Wis.) about a legislative solution to the separation of families at the southern border — an issue that has risen to the forefront of an immigration debate that was initially focused on rescuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“They have not ever been interested [in bipartisanship],” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. 

“They talk, and sometimes you all repeat it, that it’s a compromise. But it is not a compromise. It may be a compromise with the devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats. … Their bills are anti-family, perpetuate child detention, undermine existing protections [and] cut off many people who have been waiting lawfully to enter the country.”

Ryan and GOP leaders had hoped to avoid a divisive immigration fight ahead of this year’s midterm elections. But a group of rebellious Republican immigration reformers forced the issue by launching a procedural tactic, known as a discharge petition, that would have compelled floor votes on four separate DACA bills, including a pair of more liberal proposals that are anathema to conservatives. 

After weeks of closed-door meetings between the conservative immigration hawks and mutinous centrists, the sides agreed to a two-bill strategy featuring votes on a hard-line proposal, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein Fusion GPS co-founder will invoke 'constitutional rights not to testify': lawyers House GOP sets deposition deadline for Fusion GPS co-founder MORE (R-Va.), and a more moderate bill offering an eventual pathway to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers.

The debate has been shaken in recent weeks by the outcry over the separation of migrant children and their parents at the border — a consequence of a recent administrative crackdown on illegal border crossings that left Ryan and GOP leaders scrambling for a legislative fix. 

On Tuesday, the Republicans added provisions to the more moderate DACA bill designed to keep families together. But there’s a growing expectation that both the Goodlatte bill and the more moderate proposal lack the support to pass the House, let alone the Senate, where the Democrats have the power of the filibuster. 

Fueling the opposition, a number of influential conservative groups — including Heritage Action and Numbers USA — have denounced the more moderate Republican bill for providing what they consider “amnesty” for those in the country illegally. 

Under heavy pressure from a growing chorus of critics on and off of Capitol Hill — including a number of prominent Republicans — President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE reversed course on Wednesday, taking the remarkable step of signing an executive order that essentially ends the separation policy adopted by his own administration just weeks earlier.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” Trump said in signing the measure.

Democrats are hardly satisfied, however, blasting the executive order for still allowing the indefinite detention of children, even if they’re together with their parents. Pelosi said the order “seeks to replace one form of child abuse with another.”

“Whether they’re incarcerated with their parents or not, they should not be incarcerated,” Pelosi said. 

“They’re children.”