Immigration Bill’s Death Fueled By Freedom Caucus Betrayal: ‘This Is Bulls*t’

on March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

As early as last Thursday, moderate Republicans in the House knew their efforts to cobble together a compromise immigration bill would likely sink, largely due to a rift that formed between moderates and members of the House Freedom Caucus as negotiations went sour, Politico reported in a lengthy Wednesday story on the past week of House GOPers’ negotiations.

According to 20 lawmakers and staffers who spoke with Politico, moderate Republicans and members of the Freedom Caucus led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) had been negotiating on immigration for weeks, but conservatives’ list of demands seemed to expand each time both sides felt they were coming to an agreement. Tensions reportedly mounted to a boiling point last Thursday, just two days after President Donald Trump visited Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans about legislation (and ended up repelling members by mocking their colleague Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina).

Moderate Republicans came across an email that a Freedom Caucus chief staffer had sent out, warning hardliners that they’d be punished by voters if they voted in favor of any measure that included even a trace of “amnesty.” Moderates accused Meadows of trying to deter conservatives from voting in favor of the compromise bill, which included a path to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The moderates confronted Meadows about the email in a meeting that erupted into a shouting match. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) read the email out loud as Rep. John Katko (R-NY) lamented his decision to trust the Freedom Caucus and vowed “that he’d never make that mistake again,” in Politico’s words.

“This is bullshit,” Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) told Meadows, who denied any knowledge of the email.

According to Politico’s reporting, that meeting, along with a score of other misleading moves by the Freedom Caucus led to the compromise bill’s demise. The measure — which included a path to citizenship for Dreamers, offered $25 billion for the border wall, complicated the asylum process and made cuts to legal immigration — tanked on Wednesday by a 121 to 301 vote.

Read Politico’s full report here.

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