House to vote next week on GOP im­mi­gra­tion bills

Baltimore Sun - - NATION MARYLAND - By Alan Fram and Lisa Mas­caro

WASH­ING­TON — The House will vote next week on two Repub­li­can-writ­ten im­mi­gra­tion bills, a top GOP aide said late Tues­day, as lead­ers sought to move past an election-year civil war they worry will wound the party’s prospects in Novem­ber.

Ash­Lee Strong, spokes­woman for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., an­nounced the de­ci­sion after a bar­gain­ing ses­sion among lead­ers and top con­ser­va­tive and GOP law­mak­ers ended with­out agree­ment on a sin­gle pack­age all sides could sup­port.

For weeks, the party’s two wings have hunted ways to pro­vide a route to citizenship for young im­mi­grants brought il­le­gally to the U.S. as chil­dren and also bol­ster bor­der se­cu­rity, but have failed to find mid­dle ground.

The House ended Tues­day’s ses­sion as mod­er­ates fell short of their stated goal of having 218 sig­na­tures — a ma­jor­ity of the cham­ber — on a pe­ti­tion that would force votes on other immi- gra­tion bills that GOP lead­ers op­pose. They had said they would do that by Tues­day in or­der to trig­ger those votes later this month.

In­stead, the cen­trists ac­cu­mu­lated the names of all 193 Democrats but just 23 Repub­li­cans — two short of the num­ber re­quired.

GOP lead­ers have strongly op­posed the rarely used pe­ti­tion tac­tic, assert­ing those votes would prob­a­bly pro­duce a lib­er­al­lean­ing bill backed by Democrats and just a smat­ter­ing of Repub­li­cans. They’ve ac­tively lob­bied other mod­er­ates to not sign the pe­ti­tion.

Strong said the de­ci­sion to con­sider two bills will avert the pe­ti­tion “and re­solve the bor­der se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion is­sues.” She said GOP law­mak­ers would dis­cuss the plan at a closed- door meet­ing Wed­nes­day.

Rep. Car­los Curbelo, RFla., a leader of the mod­er­ates’ pe­ti­tion drive, gave his group credit for the planned House votes, which GOP lead­ers had re­sisted un­til the pe­ti­tion neared the re­quired sig­na­tures.

“Our­goal has al­ways been to force the House to de­bate and con­sider mean­ing­ful im­mi­gra­tion re­form, and to­day we’re one step closer,” Curbelo said.

Strong did not de­scribe the two bills. But Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., who leads the House Free­dom Cau­cus, said one would be a strongly con­ser­va­tive mea­sure that does not give the young im­mi­grants a way to be­come cit­i­zens.

The al­ter­na­tive mea­sure is still un­der dis­cus­sion, Mead­ows said. But a Repub­li­can fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions said it would likely be based on a pro­posal by mod­er­ates that would grant the young im­mi­grants a chance for citizenship but also pro­vide all $25 bil­lion Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wants for his wall and im­pose curbs on­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion that con­ser­va­tives want. That Repub­li­can spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe pri­vate talks.

The con­ser­va­tive mea­sure seemed cer­tain to be de­feated in the GOP-run House. If the sec­ond bill re­sem­bles the mod­er­ates’ pro­posal, it too seems likely to lose from op­po­si­tion by a com­bi­na­tion of con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans and the cham­ber’s Democrats.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/TNS 2017

The House will vote on two GOP-writ­ten im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures next week.

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