Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Freedom Caucus trying to derail vote on immigration bill

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) yesterday floated the idea of using the farm bill as leverage in order to derail an effort by Republicans to force a vote on immigration.

Meadows said the conservative group might push for a vote on an immigration bill introduced back in January by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in exchange for support on the farm bill, which has failed to gain traction in the House. The farm bill is a top priority for retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) due to its language on welfare reform.

Last week, eighteen House Republicans signed on to a discharge petition — introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) that would force votes on four immigration proposals. The one that receives the most votes over 218 would then be sent to the upper chamber, in what is known as a “Queen of the Hill” rule.

Meadows, who is not on board with the discharge petition, said bringing the Goodlatte bill to the floor would hinder the timing of the Queen of the Hill rule. Parliamentary procedure requires a discharge petition considered under a special rule in the House Rules Committee to sit for seven days and can only be voted on during the second or fourth Monday of the month.

House Republican leadership has also been highly critical of the use of discharge petitions, arguing it places the power in the hands of the minority party and many have suggested Ryan could potentially block votes on Mondays as a way to thwart the effort. Curbelo blasted the idea, saying they should have a free and open debate on the topic.

“That’s pure cowardice. Why are these people scared of their own bill? This process guarantees them a vote. Are they afraid to have a vote on their own bill? Are they worried they’ll be embarrassed?” he said Tuesday. “So now people are suggesting using the rules to suppress members and to prevent debate in the House? That sounds like a strategy that’s motivated by fear and cowardice. Let’s have the debate, let’s bring the Goodlatte bill. Maybe they can get it passed, who knows?”

THE HILL