Once Again, The House Fails On Immigration Reform
The House of Representatives has left town after once again failing to pass an immigration reform bill,, thus likely ensuring that nothing will be passed before the midterms.
Once again, the House of Representatives has failed to pass a proposed immigration reform plan that would have dealt with issues that have been in the headlines recently, including the status of beneficiaries of the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the family separation crisis still being dealt with in the area around the border with Mexico:
WASHINGTON — The House resoundingly rejected a far-reaching immigration overhaul on Wednesday, despite a last-minute plea from President Trump, as internal divisions in the Republican ranks continued to hobble legislative efforts to protect the young unauthorized immigrants known as Dreamers.
The 121-to-301 vote was an embarrassment both to Mr. Trump and to House Republican leaders, who had spent weeks trying to bring together conservatives and Republicans with moderate views on immigration — and ended up with little to show for the effort.
In the end, nearly as many Republicans voted against the bill, 112, as for it, 121.
The defeat provided the latest display of the Republican Party’s disunity in Congress on immigration. And it highlighted the continuing inability of both the House and the Senate to resolve the fate of the Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children. Many of those undocumented immigrants have been shielded from deportation under an Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which Mr. Trump moved last year to end.
Republicans in the House are now likely to turn their focus to narrower legislation that would seek to keep migrant families together at the border, an issue that senators are also looking to address. But with the Fourth of July approaching and lawmakers close to returning home for a recess, it was not clear how quickly a narrower measure might move forward.
The House is scheduled to finish its work for the week on Thursday and not return until July 10. A Republican aide said the chamber would not take action on the family separation issue until after the recess.
The frustrations over immigration in Congress are matched by the confusion in the Trump administration. A federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction on Tuesday stopping the administration from separating children from their parents at the border and ordering that all families already separated be reunited within 30 days.
The Justice Department responded by putting pressure on lawmakers, saying in a statement that the judge’s order “makes it even more imperative that Congress finally act to give federal law enforcement the ability to simultaneously enforce the law and keep families together.”
“Without this action by Congress, lawlessness at the border will continue,” the department said.
But the House vote demonstrated the difficulty of developing any kind of broad immigration legislation that can clear even a single chamber of Congress.
CNN’s Lauren Fox has more on this latest failure:
Not even a crisis on the southern border could force Congress to act on immigration.
Lawmakers left Washington this week without passing a single bill to address what has been a months-long saga for parents and children who have been separated despite calls from all sides of the political spectrum to act.
“I think we are proving to ourselves that Republicans cannot pass an immigration bill,” one Republican House member told CNN about the week.
In the House, Republicans tried and failed to pass a comprehensive immigration bill that addressed family separations as well as provided $25 billion in border security and a path to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The bill earned only 121 votes, far fewer than a more conservative proposal that had been voted on earlier in June (that bill also failed).
“Disappointment is no longer a word I utilize here in Washington, DC,” said Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican from New York who voted for the compromise.
The plan had always been to pivot to a more narrow family separation bill if a compromise couldn’t be found, but even that has proven difficult. Multiple GOP aides say they have waited for direction from the administration on what the President wants from Congress. After two roller coaster weeks over whether Trump would support the compromise GOP immigration bill, House Republican aides say guidance from the administration is essential to passing a narrow bill and that leaders are not interested in rushing legislation if it won’t have Trump’s blessing in the end.
The lack of action on immigration is hardly surprising in Congress nor is it new. Immigration galvanizes both the left and the right’s base, a reality that makes it harder to find a compromise in the middle.
“That makes it harder to solve on both sides,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The bill that the House rejected was, in its basics, a slightly watered down version of the hardline immigration bill crafted by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte that was rejected last week, however, it still went far beyond what likely would have been able to pass both the House and the Senate and make it to the President’s desk. Like the Goodlatte bill, this bill would have provided protection to the DACA beneficiaries and allegedly fixed the defects in the law that led to the family separation policy. In addition, it would have also fundamentally altered the legal immigration system by severely limited so-called “chain migration” that allows legal residents to sponsor family members for legal residence in the United States. It also would have ended the diversity visa lottery that helps to admit people from nations that are not presently significant sources of immigration to the United States. By some estimates, this would have cut legal immigration to the United States by up to one-half within a ten year period. Even with these additions, though, the bill was anathema to conservatives due to the fact that it would have allowed for a path to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries and other Dreamers. In other words, the bill was far too restrictive for any Democrats to support, and far too liberal for conservative Republicans such as the so-called “Freedom Caucus” to support.
In addition to all of this, the efforts by the House leadership to get a bill passed were not at all helped by the President of the United States. While he apparently spent the week trying to cajole votes from recalcitrant Congressman, it was just a week ago that he went on a Twitter tirade in which he basically told Congress to abandon its effort to pass an immigration bill before the midterms. With that floating out there, it’s no wonder that the mixed signals from the White House on whether or not the President even supported the bill that the House was considering played a role in the fact that wavering Congressmen ended up voting against the package. This is is especially true given the fact that many of these Members of Congress are still facing primary challenges and any miscalculation on an issue like immigration could open them up to attacks from the right or cause Republican voters to stay home on Election Day as a form of punishment. Taking all of this together, it’s clear that this latest effort at immigration reform was dead long before the House began voting on Wednesday.
At this point, the prospects that any bill at all will be passed this year is exceedingly low. The failure of even this more moderate bill in the House makes it next to impossible that anything else will pass that body before Election Day, or even that House leadership would allow another bill to be put before that body. Additionally, as we saw earlier this year the Senate has also proven unable to get even the most moderate and modest form of immigration reform passed. As a result, we’re headed to another election with the immigration issue unresolved while DACA beneficiaries and families separated at the border remain apart. It appears that the Republicans on Capitol Hill are perfectly fine with that, what’s not clear is what impact that will have on Election Day.