House Republicans set for showdown immigration vote
House Republicans are set to vote today on a hard-fought immigration compromise between conservative and moderate GOP flanks, but the bill has lost any real chance for passage despite a public outcry over the crisis at the border.
Instead, lawmakers are expected to turn toward a narrow bill to prevent immigrant family separations in hopes of addressing that issue before leaving town for the Fourth of July recess.
GOP leaders set out to pass the sweeping immigration measure on their own, without Democratic input, after some members agitated for action. Now they are facing almost certain defeat, stung by their own divisions and President Donald Trump’s wavering support.
It remained unclear late Tuesday what the final version of the immigration legislation would contain. GOP negotiators had been working over the weekend on an amendment to tack on provisions to draw more support. But it was not expected to be included.
The broader bill includes trade-offs, including a multiyear path to citizenship for young immigrants who have been living in the U.S. illegally since childhood and $25 billion for Trump’s border wall. It also would stem family separations at the border by doing away with longstanding rules that prevents minors from being detained for more than 20 days; instead, children could be held in custody with their parents for longer stretches.
House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted the drawn-out effort has been worthwhile and could lay the groundwork for an eventual legislative package. But that outcome is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Today’s vote was expected to be a check-the-box exercise designed to fulfill a promise to moderate Republicans who demanded the House GOP address immigration.
“We have a big conference with big, different views,” Ryan said about the GOP majority that controls the House. “What we have here is the seeds of consensus that will be gotten to, hopefully now, but, if not, later.”
Final passage remained in doubt because many conservatives are simply opposed to the legislation’s underlying provision – a chance for citizenship for many immigrants who arrived illegally in the U.S. as children.
Meanwhile, the number of migrant children in custody after being separated from their parents barely dropped since last week, even as Trump administration said it’s doing everything possible to expedite family reunification.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told senators at a hearing Tuesday that his agency has 2,047 migrant children – six fewer than the total HHS count last week.
Confusion reigned, with officials telling reporters on a conference call they couldn’t provide complete numbers because they are focused on reuniting families.