Unable to bridge their differences on a range of politically explosive issues linked to illegal immigration, Republicans failed for the second time in a week to get an immigration reform bill through the House, as 112 GOP lawmakers joined with all Democrats in voting to torpedo a plan that was seen by some Republicans as too moderate to vote for, showcasing GOP legislative struggles to deliver on the President’s campaign pledge for tougher immigration laws.
The vote wasn’t even close, as House Republicans were able to muster only 121 votes in favor of the plan; the bill was defeated 301 to 121.
The plan would have authorized $25 billion for construction of President Donald Trump’s border wall, ended the policy known as ‘catch and release,’ allowed some illegal immigrant “Dreamers” to gain a legal status in the U.S., and would stop the Department of Homeland Security from separating illegal immigrant families who are stopped after entering the U.S. illegally, while fixing a controversial legal ruling known as the Flores settlement.
But the plan never gained momentum; House Speaker Paul Ryan labeled it a “great consensus bill,” but more conservative lawmakers said it didn’t do enough to follow the call for action by the President.
The vote came a few hours after a belated public endorsement of the backup GOP immigration bill by President Trump, who has vacillated between telling Republicans to “stop wasting their time” on immigration, to blaming Democrats for the impasse on the issue.
“HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL,” the President wrote in all capital letters on Twitter.
But Mr. Trump had done little over the past week to press Republicans to back the measure, which also drew little in the way of public efforts by GOP leaders to rally more votes behind the bill.
“What we have here is the seeds of consensus,” Speaker Ryan said on Tuesday, even as it became clear to GOP leaders that the bill lacked a majority of votes in the House.
As for Democrats, they again stayed in lock step, voting in unison against the latest GOP offering on immigration.
“This bill doesn’t reflect anything close to the humane immigration policies backed by the overwhelming majority of Americans,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), as Democrats complained that GOP leaders had gone out of their way to make this a Republican-only bill.
“Screaming on Twitter doesn’t help,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) said of the President, adding that “House Republicans just massively rejected you.”
Last week, 41 Republicans voted against a more conservative plan – this time, 121 Republicans voted ‘No.’ There were eleven GOP lawmakers who rejected both measures.