Last Wednesday, May 16, House Republican leaders, led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) warned off members against a discharge vote on DACA. He told members in a closed door meeting that was widely reported that if the election were held now House Republicans would hold the House but if they pushed a vote on DACA it would undercut support within the Republican base and cost them the election. That debate then became ensnarled into the Agriculture Reauthorization with conservatives withholding their support unless they were guaranteed a House vote on a conservative immigration bill.
Less than two weeks ago, a handful of House Republicans including Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA) among others filed the discharge petition and now they need to get at least 218 House signatories. That would mean if all Democrats sign the petition they need 25 Republicans. After the Republican caucus discussion, Congressman John Katko (R-NY and Congressman Dave Trott (R-MI) signed the petition bringing Republican signatories to 20.
One of CWLA’s key talking points from the recent Hill Day visits (Protect the Dreamers) is to get Congress to act on DREAMERS legislation. The Dreamers Act or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2017 would grant DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) beneficiaries permanent resident status on a conditional basis. Conditions include passing a background check and medical exam, entering the United States before the age of 18, and having been continuously present in the United States since at least four years before enactment. Dreamers must also meet educational requirements, including having been admitted to a college, university, or other institution of higher learning; having earned a high school diploma or general education development (GED) certificate; or currently being enrolled in a secondary education program to obtain a high school diploma or GED certificate. Dreamers cannot have been convicted of criminal offenses.
In regard to the discharge petition, members have to sign in person and the House must be in session. Once a bill reaches the 218, it has to wait for 7 legislative days and then can only be voted on the second and fourth Mondays of the month when the House is in session. That means under the current schedule the only opportunity will be Monday June 25th and Monday July 23rd. There would also have to be the 218 signatures by at least June 11th or July 23rd.
Some advocates have mixed feeling about this latest effort. One more complexity is that a DREAMERS bill will be considered along with potentially three other bills, the last being something that would be crafted by the House Speaker. The two or more competing bills would all be voted on with the one that gets the most votes being sent over to the Senate.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are both opposing the discharge. Ryan has said that any compromise would have to have the President’s support and that probably brings in debate over wall funding. In recent days the President has again talked about a government shutdown in October as a way to force the issue. Majority McCarthy appears to be even more opposed feeling that such a vote will discourage the base of conservative voters his party is relying on in November. He is running to replace Speaker Ryan who is retiring.
By weeks end there was some feeling by moderates that they be able to negotiate some sort of immigration vote next month.