- Republicans largely expect their immigration bills to fail on Thursday afternoon.
- House conservatives are already shifting blame to Democrats, despite controlling a majority.
WASHINGTON – Despite holding a solid majority in the House, Republicans are already gearing up to place blame on Democrats for what will likely be the failures of multiple immigration bills making their way to the House floor on Thursday.
The House is voting on two different bills. One is a hardline conservative bill that has been under consideration for months. The other is a “compromise” bill cobbled together in the final minutes of an attempt by moderates to commandeer the floor from Republican leaders.
Neither bill is expected to pass, given fierce divisions in the GOP conference. And the Republican leadership’s primary goal was to avert the discharge petition and never had interest in passing a bill, according to a high-ranking Republican aide.
Nevertheless, Republicans are already shifting blame to Democrats, who have been sidelined while the two immigration bills were being crafted.
Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland told Business Insider that because Democrats support a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which both bills include, the blame lies on them for not voting for it.
“Let me just say that it astounds me that a bill that could fail this afternoon because obviously the people who want a DACA fix are not going to vote for a DACA fix this afternoon,” he said. “It’s stunning.”
“The biggest obstacle is a political obstacle,” Harris added. “The Democrats have asked for a DACA legalization fix. We’re putting how many in front of them today and not a single one may vote for it.”
When asked why Republicans cannot unite around a bill, despite having an overwhelming majority of seats in Congress, Harris again blamed Democrats, many of whom object to other components of both bills on border security policy.
“Those are the numbers,” he said. “I mean the numbers are we should be getting Democrats to vote for these common-sense bills.”
Even House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to pin the situation on Democrats during his weekly press conference Thursday morning.
“I’m beginning to think that the Democrats who make this alternative argument are less interested in keeping families intact and more interested in having open borders,” Ryan said. “And the last thing we want to do is have an incentive for illegal immigration and open borders.”
The votes are just for Republicans to ‘express themselves’ on the floor
Ryan also downplayed the importance of even passing a bill, acknowledging that it was merely a concerted effort to avoid the discharge petition.
“Let’s take a step back here and remember why we’re here this week with this process. Our goal was to prevent a discharge petition from reaching the floor,” Ryan said. “Because a discharge petition would have brought legislation to the floor that the president would have surely vetoed. It would have been an exercise in futility. But a lot of our members want to be able to express themselves by voting for the policies that they like, so that they can express their votes on the floor.”
But Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a founding member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, said a heavy portion of the blame belongs to many in the House Republican Conference.
“The simple answer is not enough Republicans are willing to do what we told the American people we were going to do when they elected us,” Jordan said. “We saw the same thing play out on the Obamacare repeal legislation.”
Throughout the immigration process in Congress, the sole litmus test for any legislation was whether or not President Donald Trump would sign a bill into law.
Because Republicans have a majority in the House, its passage through the lower chamber should be a piece of cake. But with a fractured GOP conference, Republicans will try to pin it on the Democrats.
Update Thursday afternoon: Republicans failed to pass the conservative Goodlatte-McCaul immigration bill by a vote of 193-231. While 41 Republicans voted against the bill, the ‘yea’ turnout exceeded original expectations.
In addition, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy postponed the vote on the moderate compromise bill until Friday so that members will have more time to read and consider it. The entire House Republican Conference will me at 4:30 pm ET to discuss the next steps.
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