House Democrats formally moved ahead Wednesday with a long-shot push to force a House vote on immigration reform, against the will of the majority Republican leaders.
They filed a so-called discharge petition, which would let them force a vote on the Senate-passed overhaul if they get 218 signatories. The move was quickly applauded by President Barack Obama, who elevated his rhetoric against House GOP leaders after largely refraining from attacks thus far in the hope that they’ll move on the issue.
“Last year, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense bill to fix our broken immigration system,” the president said in a statement Wednesday. “But so far, Republicans in the House have refused to allow meaningful immigration reform legislation to even come up for a vote. … Immigration reform is the right thing to do for our economy, our security, and our future. A vast majority of the American people agree. The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country.”
The effort is unlikely to succeed, as even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has acknowledged. Discharge petitions rarely do. It is an attempt to elevate the pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who has signaled he won’t act on the issue this year.