Vulnerable House GOP leader takes lead on family separations bill

Vulnerable House GOP leader takes lead on family separations bill
© Greg Nash

Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersHillicon Valley: Republicans demand answers from mobile carriers on data practices | Top carriers to stop selling location data | DOJ probing Huawei | T-Mobile execs stayed at Trump hotel as merger awaited approval House Republicans question mobile carriers on data practices Washington governor announces killer whale recovery plan MORE (Wash.), chairwoman of the House Republican conference, confirmed on Monday that she is taking the lead on legislation to end the separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I am, but we’re going to wait until after the compromise [immigration bill],” McMorris Rodgers, the only female member of GOP leadership, told The Hill after votes.

McMorris Rodgers is facing a potentially tough reelection this fall, with the Cook Political Report rating her race as competitive, though the seat leans Republican.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Washington state Republican voted against a more hard-line immigration bill from Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteIt’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end MORE (R-Va.) last week that the House rejected in a 193-231 vote. The lower chamber is supposed to vote on a GOP “compromise” immigration bill on Wednesday.

The immigration votes come as the Trump administration has sparked international outrage over its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has led to thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border.

While Trump sought to defuse the political crisis last week by signing an executive order to end family separations, it’s largely seen as a temporary fix since a decades-old court ruling says children can’t be detained for more than 20 days.

The House’s compromise immigration bill addresses the issue, but that broad legislation is expected to fail on Wednesday.

That’s why GOP leaders are crafting a narrow, standalone fix to prevent children from being separated from their parents, with McMorris Rodgers taking the lead on the bill. 

The House could vote on the slimmed-down measure before lawmakers leave for the July Fourth recess at the end of this week, but it likely won't be unveiled until after lawmakers finish considering the compromise bill.

“If we don’t succeed… Cathy McMorris Rodgers has given some real thoughtful insight in terms of how we keep those families together,” Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, told Fox News earlier on Monday. “I would think that if it doesn’t pass on Tuesday night, you’ll see a follow-up piece of legislation within days.”