House Republican leaders postponed the vote on a “compromise” immigration bill today as lawmakers rejected similar, yet more conservative, legislation by a vote of 193-231.
Politico reported that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) delayed the vote on H.R. 6136 until Friday after Republican lawmakers requested more time to consider the proposal. GOP leadership briefed members this afternoon. Then the bill was postponed again.
In the wake of outrage over the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from parents at the border as part of its zero-tolerance policy, immigration has moved to the forefront of the Republican agenda. President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to temporarily stop the separation of families at the border. However, key provisions of the zero-tolerance policy concerning prosecution of all illegal border crossers remain in force.
The two bills divided House Republicans, drawing a line between conservative and moderate members. The first proposal, H.R. 4760, took a hardline approach to immigration. Introduced back in January by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the bill offered much narrower legalization for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. Under the Goodlatte bill, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children would be able to renew their legal status every three years but wouldn’t be able to use it to apply for a green card, meaning they wouldn’t have access to apply for citizenship. The bill also would have criminalized visa overstays and cut family-based immigration, reducing overall legal immigration by getting rid of the diversity visa lottery and most categories of family-based immigration.
The more moderate bill, H.R. 6136, is a “compromise” spearheaded by House GOP leadership. The bill would provide legal status for DACA recipients, creating something called “conditional nonimmigrant” status that could be renewed after six years. It would also provide what is essentially a pathway to citizenship, offering the opportunity to receive green cards based on a points system. Participants would be awarded more points for high scores on English-language tests, advanced degrees and for length of employment. The bill, like the Goodlatte bill, would also make cuts to legal immigration and end the diversity lottery. And, a selling point for Trump, the bill would provide $25 billion for a border wall.
Despite the leadership-backed bill having the White House’s support and the delayed vote, H.R. 6136 is still likely to fail.
Bickering between Republican factions over the past week appears to have tainted both immigration bills. CNN reported a heated exchange between House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), on Wednesday.
According to CNN, Meadows told reporters off the House floor “the compromise bill is not ready for prime time — I’ll leave it at that.”
This story was updated at 7 p.m. EST