Republican moderates in the U.S. House late Tuesday were reportedly two signatures shy of forcing a vote on a proposal addressing DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the Obama-era program for delaying deportations of those who entered the U.S. illegally as children.
Many believe the bill would have passed if it had reached the House floor. The moderate wing was promised a chance to vote next week on other immigration bills.
Moderates needed 218 votes on a “discharge petition” that would have forced a vote on the DACA proposal, but secured 216.
The parliamentary gambit – a rarely used tactic to circumvent committee approval and the speaker to bring a bill to the House floor – would’ve forced members to debate a series of immigration bills, including a more bipartisan one that has the backing of all Democrats and some Republicans, according to Reuters.
If they stumble on the immigration bills next week, the discharge petition remains alive. Thus, those who may want to sign may still do so. If they command 218 signatures by mid July, the House could consider the discharge petition on the next eligible date for such tactics: July 23
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has been reluctant to press forward with a vote on the bipartisan bill that would give Democrats a major win as election season nears, Reuters reported.
Tuesday was the deadline to force votes this month.
The failure of Tuesday’s discharge position is not much of a surprise, as the House has successfully initiated such a maneuver only twice in the past 16 years. The most recent time was on a plan to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank in 2015. Before that, it was the House’s version of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, known as “Shays-Meehan.”
Moderates were promised a vote on a compromise immigration plan that would likely include a path to citizenship for DACA participants -- aka “Dreamers” -- although details of the plan were still being worked out.
Conservatives will also reportedly get a chance to vote on a bill they favor that addresses a path to legal status rather than citizenship.
“Members across the Republican Conference have negotiated directly and in good faith with each other for several weeks, and as a result, the House will consider two bills next week that will avert the discharge petition and resolve the border security and immigration issues," a spokeswoman for Ryan said in a statement.
Congress was saddled with the immigration issue after President Donald Trump called last year for an end to the program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. Federal court orders have kept the program functioning for now.
Republican Party leaders worked to derail the moderates’ petition by promising votes later this year on legislation that tackles migrant agricultural workers and rules that force employers to verify workers’ citizenship using a government online system, three aides familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press.
The Republicans spoke on condition of anonymity in describing private talks.
U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair, said she was “deeply disappointed” in Republican leadership for “derailing a legislative process that would have given the American public a debate and vote on legislation that addresses DACA.”
“Because of House Republican Leadership’s reckless and political actions, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers continue to live in an avoidable and cruel limbo,” Grisham said in a statement.
House Republicans are scheduled to meet behind closed doors Wednesday to further address the issue that leadership fears could hurt them at the polls come November.
U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., a leader of the centrists, praised his group for moving the conversation of immigration reform off the backburner.
"Our goal has always been to force the House to debate and consider meaningful immigration reform, and today we're one step closer," Curbelo said.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.