Monday, October 14, 2019

Republicans block vote on TPS for Venezuelans

Senate Republicans, before leaving for a six-week break, blocked a vote Tuesday on whether to grant Temporary Protected Status, known as TPS, to Venezuelans in the U.S. who fled political and economic turmoil at home.

The designation gives Venezuelans the ability to live and work legally in the U.S. Venezuela is the No. 1 country for those claiming asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services upon arrival here.

Last week the House passed a similar bill sponsored by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Darren Soto, D-Fla, both have large numbers of Venezuelans in their districts. Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., tried to pass the House’s bill by unanimous consent in order to get it passed quickly, but Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, opposed the request.

A unanimous vote is typically used to expedite proceedings if no senator objects, but once a senator objects, the request is rejected. Lee said fast-tracking the bill does not give Republicans enough time to consider it and make changes.

Some conservative Republicans in Congress have been reluctant to support TPS for Venezuelans while President Trump and hard-liners in his administration have tried to end the program for hundreds of thousands of Haitians, Hondurans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans currently in the U.S. with protected status. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has been pushing for legal status for Venezuelans, tweeted “we will continue working on this. Also just wrapped up another meeting with administration hoping to achieve administrative resolution of this.”

Trump has presented himself as a staunch opponent of leftist Venezuelan President Maduro and a supporter of his opponent, Juan Guaidó, yet the administration has deported hundreds of Venezuelans. On the Senate floor, Menéndez said, “It is an unconscionable moral failing for the Senate not to approve this legislation.”

NBC NEWS