I recently heard a cable talking head comment that “Moderate Republicans only exist in fiction and graveyards,” or words to that effect. I’m sorry I cannot recall who said it because he really deserves attribution for such a great line.
The so-called “moderate” Republicans who were pursuing a discharge petition in the House for a DACA fix had until Tuesday to force a vote in the House in June under the “Queen of the Hill” rule. In the end, “moderate” Republicans caved rather than rebel against their GOP leadership. Courage is in short supply among Republicans.
The New York Times reports, Ryan Sets Votes on Immigration as Moderates’ Revolt Falls Short:
After frenzied late-night negotiations, Speaker Paul D. Ryan defused a moderate Republican rebellion on Tuesday with a promise to hold high-stakes votes on immigration next week, thrusting the divisive issue onto center stage during a difficult election season for Republicans.
The move by Mr. Ryan, announced late Tuesday by his office, was something of a defeat for the rebellious immigration moderates, who fell two signatures short of the 218 needed to force the House to act this month on bipartisan measures aimed more directly at helping young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Instead, the House is most likely to vote on one hard-line immigration measure backed by President Trump and conservatives — and another more moderate compromise bill that was still being drafted, according to people familiar with the talks.
Had the rebels secured just two more signatures for their “discharge petition,” they would have also gotten votes on the Dream Act, a stand-alone bill backed by Democrats that includes a path to citizenship for the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, and another bipartisan measure that couples a path to citizenship for Dreamers with beefed-up border security.
Mr. Ryan desperately wanted to avoid bringing those bipartisan measures to the floor.
The point of this “compromise” by Speaker Ryan was to shut out these Democratic supported bills from any vote under the “Queen of the Hill” rule. So now we have the hardline Goodlatte-MsSally bill from the GOP House Freedom Caucus, which does not have the votes to pass Congress, and a so-called GOP moderate bill still being drafted that will fall far short of the Dream Act and the bipartisan measure that couples a path to citizenship for Dreamers with beefed-up border security. The minority GOP House Freedom Caucus has Paul Ryan by the short hairs and is calling the shots.
It is likely that neither of these bills will have Democratic support nor enough support to pass Congress. Speaker Ryan’s “compromise,” therefore, is to assure that no immigration bill is passed by this Congress, just as “Dear Leader” wants it.
Democrats pounced on the setback for the moderates, many of whom — such as Mr. Curbelo and Representatives Jeff Denham of California and Will Hurd of Texas — are high on their target list in November.
“House Republicans’ latest failure to deliver for Dreamers is made all the more inexcusable by their many empty promises that they would get the signatures and move on the discharge petition,” said Javier Gamboa, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “If vulnerable members like Carlos Curbelo, Will Hurd and Jeff Denham can’t get the job done with their party controlling all of Washington, they have no business serving in Congress.”
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Speaker Ryan had feared a debate on immigration would divide the party just as lawmakers who are trying to defend their seats have to face voters. But leaders of the petition drive, many of them with large Hispanic constituencies, had argued that to ignore the immigration issue would put them in political peril.
“There have been some critics who say that this could cost us our majority,” Mr. Denham said in a recent interview. “My concern is if we do nothing, it could cost us our majority. So yes, it’s risky. But it’s the right thing to do.”
Pretending to act on DACA and failing to pass any meaningful substantive legislation should also cost you your GOP majority, Mr. Denham. You don’t get a pass for going through the motions.
The discharge petition [did] revive an immigration debate in Congress that had been all but dead. The Senate spent a week debating immigration legislation in February, and passed nothing. The conventional wisdom was that immigration would become an issue to be fought over during elections. And some [GOP] lawmakers said there was no urgency, noting that the DACA program is continuing, at least for now, at the direction of the federal courts.
But heart-rending stories featuring young immigrants continue to emerge, such as a recent Des Moines Register article about Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco, who arrived in the United States at age 3, was forced by immigration authorities to leave his home in Iowa in April, just before his high school graduation, and was killed in Mexico.
So next week we are going to go through the motions of the House voting on two bills, one of which, the Goodlatte-McSally bill, is D.O.A. in the Senate, and a yet to be drafted GOP bill that will also lack Democratic support and will not pass the Senate. The status quo will remain for DACA eligible children, as Attorney General Sessions and President Trump continue their efforts to deport them.
The best case scenario for Democratic electoral politics is that the Goodlatte-McSally bill supported by the GOP House Freedom Caucus and the Trump Administration passes the House and is summarily rejected in the Senate with Democratic votes.
These hardline GOP members must be held accountable for their inaction. They are completely at odds with the American people on returning DACA recipients back to their country of origin. All the polls taken show that 80-90% of respondents support keeping DACA recipients in the U.S. with a pathway to citizenship. It is Democrats who support the DREAMers and a pathway to citizenship.
The only way to resolve this impasse is to elect a Democratic House and Senate in November. With Democrats in charge, President Trump is a toothless tiger who will agree to anything, just as he did in Singapore with Kim Jong-un this week.