Two Democrats on the fence over immigration discharge petition

Two Democrats on the fence over immigration discharge petition
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Two Texas Democrats are withholding support for a push to force a House vote on four immigration bills because two of those bills include funding for a border wall.

Rep. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaHow Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others New Dem caucus chairman: Some wall is good, but not new wall Border lawmakers press Trump to beef up existing security MORE (D-Texas), an outspoken opponent of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE's proposed border wall, panned Minority Whip Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOvernight Defense: Top Marine warns border deployment could hurt readiness | McSally aims for sexual assault reforms in defense bill | House to vote on measure opposing transgender ban | New warning over F-35 sale to Turkey House Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts House to vote on measure opposing transgender military ban MORE (D-Md.), who Tuesday said Democrats would be willing to pay for the wall in exchange for protection for so-called Dreamers.

"Are the $1.7 billion already appropriated by Congress to build Trump's border wall, without an inkling of immigration relief, not enough for Steny Hoyer?" asked Vela.

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"Now, he’s ready to give Trump more for his wall? The sad truth is that border communities cannot count on current Democratic leadership to protect this country for the ever-expanding acceptance of Trump’s atrocious border wall," he added.

Rep. Vicente González (D-Texas) — who represents the district neighboring Vela's — is also not on board the push for current immigration legislation.

"What I'm worried about is we're going to trade the wall for our vote," González told The Hill.

Hoyer, who called the wall an ineffective solution to illegal immigration, spoke out in favor of a potential deal in the context of a Republican-led fight to force an immigration bill on the House floor.

A group of Republicans, led by Reps. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloEx-GOP lawmaker joins marijuana trade group Dems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE (Fla.) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamCrazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine Polling editor says news outlets should be more cautious calling elections Rep. Valadao officially concedes in California race MORE (Calif.), is collecting signatures on what's known as a discharge petition to circumvent leadership and have the House vote on the immigration bills.

The discharge petition would bring to the floor what's known as a "Queen of the Hill" rule proposed by Denham, where four bills would compete and the House would pass whichever got the most votes above the 50 percent threshold.

The bills in the Queen of the Hill rule so far are a conservative bill proposed by Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (R-Va.); the Dream Act, which would grant a path to citizenship to 1.8 million Dreamers; the USA Act, which would pair the Dream Act with $25 billion for border security; and a bill of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down MORE's (R-Wis.) choosing.

In effect, all proposals under the rule, save for the Dream Act, would fund a border wall.

The motion's supporters met resistance from Republican leadership, but have so far signed on 20 Republicans — five short of the 25 they'd need if all Democrats also support the measure.

The residents of Rio Grande Valley in Texas, which González and Vela represent, generally opposes border wall construction. Aside from integration of cities on both sides of the border, many Texans resent the federal government using eminent domain to obtain land for the wall.

Asked about Hoyer's comments, González noted the congressman isn't from Texas.

"He doesn't have the border in his district; we do," said González.

"We can build a wall around Maryland, maybe that'll be all right," he added.

Still, González said he would also take into account the needs of Dreamers — immigrants who arrived in the country as minors.

González said he'd consider voting for the discharge petition and then starting federal litigation against wall construction to get legalization for Dreamers without building a wall.

"Dreamers don't want the wall either, but I have Dreamers come into my office and say, 'Hey, if you have to give up the wall to fix my issue, please do.' But they're from Chicago or, you know, the East Coast. But if they're from the South Texas area or anywhere on the border, they're opposed to both," said González.

Minority Leader Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi, Dems plot strategy after end of Mueller probe Coons after Russia probe: House Dems need to use power in 'focused and responsible way' Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings MORE (D-Calif.) said that, regardless of Vela's position, Democrats would support the measure overwhelmingly.

"So, if we had 99.44 percent — you wouldn’t know what that means, but that used to be what they said [about the purity of] Ivory Soap … In any event, we’ll have a strong Democrat [support]. If one person is not on the reservation, we’ll see when the time comes. But I respect Mr. Vela’s concerns about the border, for sure,” she said.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineRepublicans defend McCain amid Trump attacks EU fines Google .7B over advertising agreements On The Money: Liberal groups pressure Dems over Trump's tax returns | Top Trump economist says tax cuts powering economy | Trump Jr. slams Theresa May over Brexit delay | Watchdog warns of 'rosy' assumptions in Trump budget MORE (D-R.I.) went even further.

"Oh, we're going to get every Democrat. Stay tuned," he said.

Still, Vela raised doubts about Democratic leaders' authority on the issue.

"Let us not forget that this is the same Democratic leadership team that dropped immigrants in the grease when Democrats controlled the White House and both legislative chambers," he said.

Vela, who left the door open to changing his mind on support for the discharge petition, called for a change in Democratic House leadership to stand up to Republican demands.

"Hoyer’s acquiescence to exchanging more border wall funding for DACA relief totally ignores the plight of the millions of immigrants unprotected by DACA, including those previously spared from deportation by being given Temporary Protected Status because of horrendous conditions in their home country," he said.

Mike Lillis contributed.