GOP leaders promise to whip hard-line immigration bill

Conservative House members say they got a promise from leadership to pursue a separate hard-line Republican-only immi...

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 2:11 PM
Updated: Jan 19, 2018 2:11 PM

Conservative House members say they got a promise from leadership to pursue a separate hard-line Republican-only immigration bill in exchange for their votes to pass government funding Thursday night -- a measure that several Republicans doubt could pass the House, let alone the Senate.

The bill is a proposal from key committee and subcommittee chairs Bob Goodlatte, Raul Labrador, Mike McCaul and Martha McSally that includes a large number of hard-line immigration provisions that Democrats and some Republicans have said are nonstarters.

Labrador told CNN after votes Thursday that the commitment to members of the House Freedom Caucus was "to actually whip (the bill) and to work on it like they did on all the other important bills we've done this year." While there was no clear timeline for a floor vote, Labrador said that "should" be the goal.

"if people want to vote against it, they can explain to their constituents why they're voting against a bill like this," Labrador said.

The immigration bill includes a number of controversial pieces, including mandatory worker verification, cracking down on sanctuary cities, changing asylum thresholds and cutting legal immigration to the US by 25%. The bill offers Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients indefinitely renewable three-year work permits but no pathway to citizenship.

The Freedom Caucus also got a commitment on defense spending, according to a source familiar with the negotiations, and Speaker Paul Ryan said he would put together a team to work the bill in the House. But the source said a vote would happen only if the bill had enough votes to pass by the end of next month. Another source familiar said the agreement was to look at the bill at a later date.

Already, there are signs the bill would not get the support of a majority of the House. Democrats are virtually united against it and most of its provisions individually. In addition, a number of moderate Republicans have already signaled they wouldn't be able to support it.

Republican Rep. David Valadao of California said Thursday the bill would not pass and would not get his vote as it is.

"Not today, no," he said. "There's quite a bit there that needs a lot of work."

Other Republicans have also said they have issues with the bill, especially outside the context of comprehensive immigration reform. Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Mike Coffman of Colorado have said they would be unlikely to support it.

Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, who has his own bill co-sponsored by Valadao, said such bills are unlikely to move forward.

"Many of the pieces of legislation that are out there are way too broad. They have potential civil liberties issues enshrined in them," Hurd said. "Some of these I have not reviewed because I don't believe it has a potential of getting signed into law."

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