A coalition of pro-immigration Republicans, many facing tough reelection battles, are bucking House GOP leaders to try to force a last-minute vote to let undocumented immigrants brought here as children regain their legal status.
The group, led by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), initiated a discharge petition to force a House vote on a bill to reauthorize the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Trump attempted to end last year and is currently in limbo given ongoing court challenges.
“Immigration has paralyzed this institution for too long,” Curbelo said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference outside the Capitol.
He is joined on the bill by 14 other Republicans — leaving the petition just 10 votes shy of triggering a free-for-all of voting on the House floor
(assuming all Democrats support it, as expected).
That list reads largely like a who’s who of vulnerable members from diverse districts. Curbelo is in for a tough reelection fight, as are Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Will Hurd (R-TX), Mia Love (R-UT), Mike Coffman (R-CO), John Faso (R-NY) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY).
“This should have been resolved years ago if not decades ago,” said Denham, who represents a swing district with a large number of Hispanics.
“I’m not abdicating my responsibilities to the White House,” said Love at the press conference.
She’s in a tough race in a district where President Trump performed poorly but won — and where the heavily Mormon population is strongly supportive of immigration reform.
Some other members on the bill are longtime Republican moderates who are retiring at the ends of their terms: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA).
One interesting person on the bill: Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a close ally of the White House.
Republican leaders have long fought against this effort, and it may be much tougher for those leading this effort to get the final 10 votes that would force a floor vote on a DACA bill and other immigration measures than the first 15. But the move is a political winner for the group as they look to show some distance from Trump ahead of a tough midterm election.