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Miami Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart are trying to force votes on four immigration bills, bypassing Speaker Paul Ryan and House GOP leadership which has been resistant to any immigration proposal that doesn’t have 218 Republican votes.
Curbelo filed a petition on Wednesday that would require Congress to vote on a proposal known as “Queen of the Hill,” an arcane legislative maneuver that allows the majority of Congress to vote on a legislative solution for DACA recipients who are currently mired in legal limbo after Congress and the White House failed to find a solution earlier this year.
The courts are trying to determine the legality of President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, an Obama-era executive action that protected 690,000 young immigrations from potential deportation.
If a majority of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, signs onto Curbelo’s resolution then four different immigration bills would get consideration in the House of Representatives. The move allows Curbelo and Diaz-Balart to join up with House Democrats and force a series of votes. Curbelo and Diaz-Balart are in the minority of their own party on immigration issues and are facing competitive reelection campaigns against Democrats who are trying to highlight Washington’s inaction on the issue.
If 20 Republicans and all 193 House Democrats join Curbelo, Diaz-Balart and three other House Republicans who signed onto the petition, votes on various immigration bills could commence early next month. Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen confirmed Wednesday that she plans to sign the petition and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said previously she supports the petition.
The petition, if successful, would force votes on a conservative immigration proposal embraced by the majority of House Republicans that has so far failed to garner 218 votes, a bill called the Dream Act that would protect DACA recipients and DACA-eligible young people who didn’t sign up for the Obama-era program from deportation and give them a path to citizenship, a bill that gives DACA-eligible young people a path to citizenship while also including funding for border security and a fourth bill of Speaker Paul Ryan’s choosing. The bill with the most votes, so long as it constitutes a majority, will head to the Senate for consideration.
Curbelo, who recently signed onto the Dream Act, and Diaz-Balart, who recently drew a serious Democratic challenger for the first time in a decade, have tried for months to find an immigration solution with the blessing of GOP leadership. They have been unable to do so because of conservatives who are reluctant to vote on any bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who came to the U.S. without authorization.