Immigration Bills to Get House Votes Next Week in GOP Compromise

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) announces deal on immigration votes. ( MGN Image )

(Bloomberg) -- The Republican-controlled House will consider two immigration bills next week in a compromise among GOP factions that will put to a vote measures that would protect protect from deportation some immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

The deal brokered Tuesday night by House Speaker Paul Ryan quells, at least temporarily, a rebellion by moderate Republicans to force floor votes on additional immigration measures GOP leaders don’t want to take up. Republican leaders said the attempt to use a so-called discharge petition would give Democrats too much control to push the proposals they prefer.

Disagreements over a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers, have kept consensus out of reach for weeks, along with changes to legal visas and funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

The GOP compromise didn’t finalize details of the legislation that will be considered, but it did lay out a strategy that the two main Republican factions said they could live with, according to participants in the meetings.

“Members across the Republican Conference have negotiated directly and in good faith with each other for several weeks, and as a result, the House will consider two bills next week that will avert the discharge petition and resolve the border security and immigration issues,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said in a statement.

One of those bills that will get a vote is a conservative immigration proposal sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, even though Ryan previously said it didn’t have enough Republican support to pass. This bill would provide temporary protection for Dreamers while constricting legal immigration by limiting immigrants’ ability to sponsor family members to come to the U.S. and by eliminating the diversity visa lottery.

Ryan also will schedule a vote on a to-be-determined compromise bill from moderates that would include border security measures along with a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California tweeted that “If Republicans plan to use Dreamers as a way to advance ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump⁩’s xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda, they will get a fight from House Democrats.”

Pushing the GOP-only negotiations into next week was an important step for Ryan to stall the petition’s momentum, because the effort needed the support of 218 House members by Tuesday if it was to force a vote on the four immigration proposals by June 25, according to House rules. There is still time for more members to sign on, but the next available date for this kind of vote isn’t until next month.

The petition picked up one more vote -- Henry Cuellar, of Texas, the only Democrat who hadn’t yet signed -- but it is still two votes shy of the majority threshold.

Ryan and his deputies worked hard to convince the wavering Republican to not sign the petition, including a promise to vote on a measure to overhaul the guest worker program that allows companies to legally hire foreigners, especially in the construction, agriculture and service industries.

Representatives Dennis Ross of Florida and Dan Newhouse of Washington both said this pledge kept them from giving the petition the final two votes it needed to progress.

Newhouse thanked Ryan and majority leader Kevin McCarthy of California “for committing to me personally to bring forward a separate immigration bill that addresses agriculture’s labor needs before the August district work period,” according to a statement from his office.

“Agriculture is a labor-intensive industry and there remains a shortage of domestic labor,” Newhouse said. “Our farmers and ranchers must have access to a legal and reliable workforce in order to provide the world with a safe and abundant supply of food.”

Carlos Curbelo, the Florida Republican who began the petition, hailed the commitment to vote on two bills next week as a “major development” in the broader immigration debate. Even though Tuesday’s deadline passed, he said immigration advocates in Congress won’t let up the pressure.

“While the legislation to be revealed in the coming days is based on the productive negotiations hosted by House leaders over the last several weeks, it is vital our colleagues remain committed to the discharge petition,” Curbelo said.

 

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

 

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