House leaders clash over resolution backing ICE

House leaders clash over resolution backing ICE
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Congress, White House near deal on spending, debt limit On The Money: Congress, White House aim to include debt limit increase in spending deal | McConnell optimistic budget deal near | Carson defends HUD eviction plan | Senate votes to undo tax hike on Gold Star families MORE (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment Trump urges Dem leaders to pass new NAFTA before infrastructure deal MORE (D-Md.) sparred on Thursday over the decision by a majority of Democrats to vote "present" on a resolution expressing support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

McCarthy, who praised ICE’s work to stop drug and human trafficking, said it was “shocking” that 133 House Democrats voted present on the resolution when it came up for a vote on Wednesday, arguing the party's shift to the left could be responsible for their decision.

“The only time he'll [Hoyer] ever see my vote up there for 'present' is a quorum call, because I believe the American public and my constituents expect me to make a decision when I come,” he said on the House floor.


“And I think it was very clear yesterday, you can make a decision – and I know my friend and I know his beliefs – but I also know his party has a new movement," McCarthy continued. "It's a socialist party, and they're gaining steam. But that new party and that new movement in there, I still believe you would make a decision one way or another.”

McCarthy chided the scores of Democrats who neither supported nor opposed the resolution, attempting to draw into question their support for ICE agents.

“What do you think about those men and women [who are] a part of ICE?" he said, noting that "every day they risk their lives."

"It's not a day to vote present."

Hoyer fired back, saying Republicans were playing politics by bringing up the non-binding resolution and offering to call a vote on a progressive-backed bill aimed at abolishing ICE.

“The gentleman knows damn well that's not the case," the Maryland Democrat said.

"And I'm tired of hearing him demagogue about that. I expect him to do it between now and the election. But the gentleman is not honest when he does it and he knows that,” he added.

“I voted present, because I wanted to say to you, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to say to the leader, I'm not going to take it or leave it. You want to make me look like I'm not for law enforcement, when I've been for law enforcement in the 50 years I've been in public office, without fail.”

Hoyer dismissed criticism that Republicans would have brought up for a vote the "Abolish ICE" bill introduced by several liberal Democrats, arguing GOP leaders were aware that most Democrats didn’t support the measure.

"This is the most autocratic Congress in which I have served. It has had the most closed rules. And the majority leader brings to the floor his version of what he wants to say and how he wants to characterize it -- no consultation with us, no amendments allowed," Hoyer said.

"And then when we say, we're not going to vote against ICE agents, we honor the work that they do, we honor the sacrifices they make, we honor the critical role they play in defending our country and enforcing our laws. But, Mr. Leader, we're not going to take it or leave it."

Hoyer said he respects the work ICE agents do, but feels family separations need to be addressed, calling on Republicans to bring up a stand-alone bill.

McCarthy argued Republicans brought up two comprehensive immigration bills that would have addressed the issue that failed without Democratic support. The California Republican also noted an executive order was signed to keep families together at the border.

The House on Wednesday approved the GOP resolution expressing support for ICE in a vote of 244-35, with 18 Democrats backing the measure and 34 opposing it. Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashHouse Democrats press leaders to start Trump impeachment Schumer declines to endorse Amash's comments on 'impeachable conduct' by Trump Amash won't rule out Libertarian challenge to Trump MORE (R-Mich.), a libertarian-minded lawmaker who has bucked leadership in the past, was the only Republican to vote against the measure, while 133 Democrats voted "present."