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GOP leadership dodges bipartisan effort to force vote on DACA

By Sara Shayanian
GOP leadership dodges bipartisan effort to force vote on DACA
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the House will vote next week on two immigration bills, in an effort to dodge an intra-party discharge petition. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

June 13 (UPI) -- House Speaker Paul Ryan has dodged an effort by a group of dissenting Republicans to bypass leadership and force a vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Ryan announced late Tuesday the House will consider two competing bills next week that will deal with the issue -- a conservative version from Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and a bipartisan version that's still in the works.

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The move stops an intra-party conflict by dodging a discharge petition, in which centrist Republicans sought to oppose GOP House leadership and force votes on DACA.

The petition, led by California Rep. Jeff Denham, a moderate Republican, fell just two votes short of the 218 needed to force a vote.

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"The House will consider two bills next week that will avert the discharge petition and resolve the border security and immigration issues," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

The votes effectively kill the discharge petition -- a loss for GOP moderates and Democrats working to save the Obama-era DACA program. President Donald Trump's administration has moved to terminate the program, which protects undocumented immigrants taken to the United States as children. Trump intended to end DACA by March but the plan was blocked in federal court.

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In an agreement between conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus and moderate Republicans, a vote on the Goodlatte bill would end the discharge petition.

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Although Ryan's plan mitigates fighting between Republicans on immigration, it also reduces the chances that a DACA bill will reach President Donald Trump's desk or the Senate this year.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican who sponsored the petition, said moderates will continue to pursue the discharge efforts.

"It is vital our colleagues remain committed to the discharge petition," Curbelo said in a statement.

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"We must and will keep up the pressure."

House Democrats, meanwhile, criticized GOP leaders for dodging the bipartisan effort to protect undocumented immigrants.

"If Republicans plan to use Dreamers as a way to advance [Donald Trump's] xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda, they will get a fight from House Democrats," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted Tuesday.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip, called Ryan's proposed DACA votes a "pretend attempt" to address the immigration crisis.

"The Speaker is offering vague promises to bring a bill to the Floor that was crafted without Democratic input and to permit the House to vote only on that and on legislation offered by the extreme wing in his party that will not pass," Hoyer said in a statement.

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"This is a pretend attempt to appear that he is addressing the DACA crisis when he is not."

Supporters of the discharge petition have until July 23 to force a vote on the issue.

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