A discharge petition that would force a House vote on immigration reform is gaining traction, but U.S. Rep Dan Newhouse has not yet signed the document being pushed by many of his Republican colleagues.
A member of the House Rules Committee, Newhouse is putting his trust in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s pledge that other immigration proposals will be put on the floor in June – and those will be the ones most likely to be signed by President Trump, Newhouse believes.
We hope our congressman is calling this right.
Among the bills included in the discharge petition is a proposal to finally approve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We would hate to see a vote on this critical piece of legislation pushed back.
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Newhouse seems assured that won’t happen. He told the Tri-City Herald that while the discharge effort has "accomplished its goal to bring pressure for a floor vote on immigration," House leadership “has committed, to me personally,” that it would hold votes on multiple immigration proposals in June.
“We have one shot at getting a majority of the House to vote on legislation the president will sign into law," Newhouse said.
Immigrants caught in the DACA net have been in limbo for months.
Known as Dreamers, these are young people who arrived in the United States with undocumented parents and have grown up here. They are non-citizens, yet know no other country as their home.
DACA is a stop-gap program established under President Obama’s administration that provided work permits and temporary protections against deportation for these young people.
But last September, President Trump announced the DACA program would end March 5. Federal courts have since intervened,and allowed existing DACA permits to be renewed while the decision to abandon the program is under review.
In the meantime, several moderate Republicans have decided to leap-frog over House leadership and use the discharge petition to force the issue to the floor. It is a rare maneuver that appears to have a lot of support.
The petition needs signatures from a majority of House members, and so far 20 Republicans have signed on. If the GOP can wrangle five more signatures, then it is expected Democrats will back the petition and those reform measures will be up for a vote.
Ryan had said it would be better to advance something that will have the president’s support, and that using a discharge petition will waste time if it won't get Trump's signature, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Newhouse also isn’t keen on the strategy.
“Congress must act and not be subjected to demands from the extremes in this debate," he said. "We must come together and provide certainty to the 800,000 young people who remain in jeopardy, and I am glad we have a commitment for a vote.”
He added that he wanted to continue to work with congressional leadership, the White House, and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, “but I will also keep my options open on what is the best course of action available.”
So far, all that has been accomplished on immigration reform is talk.
If the petition effort fails because GOP leaders promise something better, then they better deliver.