House conservatives are using their leverage to force Republican leadership to bring an immigration bill to the floor of the House in exchange for their support on a continuing resolution, a short-term spending that will keep the government open past Friday. Leadership is resisting the tough tactics but their margin for error is super tight, as Democrats are vowing to oppose any continuing resolution that doesn’t include DACA protections.
The move is being pushed by the House Freedom Caucus, a group of about 30 or so conservative lawmakers. The HFC usually votes as a bloc and their lack of support for a funding bill can doom it. Leadership can only afford to lose 21 Republican votes. That assumes that they get no support from Democrats.
“As of right now they don’t have the votes,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the group’s chairman, told reporters today. He was walking into a meeting with White House chief of staff John Kelly at the Capitol. “There is strong support for the House to put forth a vote on immigration, and the Goodlatte-Labrador bill has the most support within the caucus,” Meadows said.
Goodlatte-Labrador, named after the bill’s sponsors, would provide DACA recipients with temporary, renewable, legal status. But it would also include $30 billion for a border wall, end family chain migration, end the visa lottery program and mandate the use of E-verify, the system that verifies an employee’s legal stats before they can be hired by an employer.
Some Republicans suggest that the reason they are pushing hard for a vote on the bill is that it contains much more conservative immigration provisions than what is expected from any bipartisan deal, especially one that comes out of the Senate. Also especially with a budget bill hanging in the balance. “We don’t wanna get rolled by the Senate on DACA and the budget,” said Freedom Caucus Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA).
Republican leadership is a little weary of the Goodlatte bill, noting its lack of viability in the Senate, even if it were to pass the House. But leadership was still optimistic that a last-minute solution will be found. “We’ll build support, and we’ll get there…” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), a member of Republican leadership. “Sometimes, some of my friends want to make it more exciting than it has to be.”