ICYMI: Curbelo Leads Republicans in Effort to Force DACA Vote in House
Republicans seek enough signatures to force DACA vote in House
A group of Republicans are making good on their threat to attempt to force an immigration floor vote in the House -- potentially paving the way for a showdown among proposals to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The lawmakers on Tuesday signed what's known as a discharge petition -- a procedural maneuver that can bring legislation to the House floor if it is signed by a majority of House members regardless of whether it has moved through committee, as is traditionally the case for most legislation. If the petition were to pick up enough supporters, it would set up a floor debate on four different immigration measures as early as June.
The move is unusual for members of the majority party, who are effectively going around House Speaker Paul Ryan to set up a vote on legislation that GOP leadership has refused to call to the floor for a vote. Still, the members insist they are making an effort to be deferential to leadership, by leaving one bill open to the speaker's choosing.
The effort is being spearheaded by three moderate Republicans who have long been vocal about trying to save DACA, a program that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children -- Reps. Will Hurd of Texas, Jeff Denham of California, and Carlos Curbelo of Florida. Curbelo officially introduced the petition Wednesday morning.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, the three moderates said the goal was to have a long overdue immigration debate without a predetermined outcome.
"This institution should be driven by courage, not by cowardice, and the goal should not be to suppress members from pursuing their legislative goals, it should be to empower each member, and that's what we're trying to do," Curbelo said. "The goal is to empower each member of the House, including the speaker, to advance the solution that each member believes is the best one for this challengeand to try to gain supporters for that solution. So this is not in defiance of anyone."
The petition has more than a dozen Republicans on it already, Denham said, and while the members would not reveal their list of supporters in advance, they did note the signatories come from across the ideological spectrum. Some more conservative members of the House could back the effort because it would allow a vote on a hardline immigration measure they've supported, and circumvent what conservatives often complain is overly restrictive procedural controls by leadership.
"I think you'll see many different caucuses throughout the House that are engaged in this debate that are focused on different solutions," Denham said. "I think it's our job. Congress needs to do its job and be held accountable."
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