WASHINGTON – A group of Republicans who signed onto a discharge petition to force a vote on a series of immigration reform bills are determined that a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program come to the House floor.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) formally filed the petition, which covers four immigration bills, last week. If the petition is adopted, the piece of legislation that receives the most votes passes.
Curbelo told PJM he could personally support the DREAM Act and the USA Act, which are two of the four bills that would be considered if the petition goes through with 218 signatures. The Securing America’s Future Act and a bill that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) chooses would be the other two proposals.
“I would be very intrigued to see what the speaker comes up with. Perhaps I could support that one as well,” Curbelo told PJM after a press conference on Capitol Hill last week.
Ryan stressed this week that he doesn’t want to bring any bill for a vote that would be vetoed if passed. President Trump has emphasized that he would not support an immigration reform bill that does not provide full funding of a border wall system on the southern border. Curbelo was asked if he would support a final proposal that fully funds the border wall.
“We want to arrive at a solution that gets 218 votes in the House and 60 in the Senate and can get signed by the president, so what that looks like, it is too early to know for sure,” Curbelo replied.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who signed onto the discharge petition, said every Republican has “pretty much agreed” to the concept that any immigration compromise has to provide border security funding along with a DACA fix.
“The question is can we get something like that brought to the floor, and that’s what this is all about,” he said. “Those four bills can change; in other words, it doesn’t have to be the bill as they are today. Those four bills, it’s very explicit, it says they can change it, you know, whatever those are.”
Diaz-Balart compared the current situation to what had occurred under Nancy Pelosi, who wouldn’t allow a vote on certain bills when she was speaker of the House.
“The problem is when Nancy Pelosi was speaker, there was a bipartisan group, I was part of that, we had a bipartisan bill that didn’t need any Republicans and she refused to allow a vote,” Diaz-Balart said. “Fast-forward, Republicans did the same thing later on. This is a way to force a vote and I think it’s something that’s seldomly used, and I think the timing is right.”
When asked if he thinks the timing is right because Ryan is retiring, Diaz-Balart replied, “It’s because this is not a new issue. It’s not an issue that will solve itself.”
He continued, “What is not acceptable is the status quo and this is a way to force the House to take action, which I think is an important step taken today.”