Some House Democrats want to ram amnesty for illegal aliens down the throats of the American people using a discharge petition that would circumvent House GOP leadership, while others want to hang back and continue politically peppering House Republicans to pressure them to grant amnesty, the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent reports. The differences in opinion on strategy divide the left, Sargent notes, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the epicenter of the rift.
“I’m told divisions have opened up among Democrats over how to push immigration reform forward in the House of Representatives, with some advocates urging a more confrontational posture with Republicans, while other Dems insist that such tactics could end up undercutting the already-slim-to-none chances that House Republicans will pass something that could lead to real reform,” Sargent wrote on Tuesday.
“At the center of the internal debate is Nancy Pelosi and the question of whether Democrats will file a so-called ‘discharge petition’ for the Senate immigration bill,” Sargent added. “If a discharge petition were signed by a majority in the House, the measure would get a full floor vote. Those advocating for this course — including Jonathan Chait and Steve Benen, among others — note that if most Dems signed it, only a handful of Republicans would be required to get it through, and since a majority in the House supports reform, that would all but ensure passage (with mostly Dems) in a full vote.”
Citing Frank Sharry of the pro-amnesty America’s Voice and a House Democratic leadership aide, Sargent notes that the talk of a discharge petition strategy is “provoking opposition among some Dems on the House ‘gang of seven,’ who fear it could give Republicans in the ‘gang’ an excuse to walk away from an emerging compromise that may be the best hope for anything approaching a comprehensive bill in the House.”
Pelosi’s aggressive hand in these immigration talks has caused rifts in the Democratic caucus. As Breitbart News reported, Pelosi was pushing the then House “Gang of Eight” to provide Obamacare to illegal aliens after her Democrat members in the group, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and John Yarmuth (D-KY), had previously agreed illegal aliens would not be allowed to access the entitlement–a move that caused Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) to bail from the group. “Like most Americans, I believe that health care is first and foremost a personal responsibility,” Labrador said when he left the group, leaving it a “Gang of Seven” instead of Eight.
As Sargent notes, those House Democrats in the now Gang of Seven worry that if Pelosi interferes again, she could permanently destroy immigration reform efforts.
But those are hardly the only divisions in the House Democratic caucus. “Some Dems in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and some Dems in border districts also are cool to the idea, because they object to the Senate bill’s huge border security buildup,” Sargent wrote. “They would prefer to stake their chances on the possibility of a bipartisan House bill or on conference negotiations designed to reconcile the Senate bill with whatever the House passes.”
Sargent added, too, that many Democrats who might be open to a discharge petition simply oppose rushing to that plan now. “Another argument being made internally is that there is no reason to decide right now whether to act on the petition; since it must ripen for 30 legislative days (not recess days) anyway,” Sargent wrote. “So the decision can be made in September, once folks have a better sense of how immigration played over the break, with no time lost.”
Many in the pro-amnesty advocacy crowd, including Sharry, want a discharge petition. “One of the biggest threats we face is that Republicans will slow walk immigration reform to death,” Sharry said, according to Sargent. “This is a way to counter that.”
In the end, though, Sargent notes that Pelosi is still waiting to make a decision on what she will do. “Right now, there’s no consensus that this would accomplish anything at this time,” the Democratic leadership aide told Sargent. “But this is a play that could be used later, should members want to do it.”
There are even some Democrats in the House adamantly opposed to the Senate bill, too. Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), for instance, declared his ardent opposition to the bill in a recent interview with Breitbart News, where he said that “obviously not all Democrats feel that way [are in favor of amnesty] but it would be presumptuous for me to speak for any other Democrats in the caucus about this.”
“They’re perfectly free to speak for themselves,” Barrow said. “I can tell you this: There are a lot of people both Republican and Democrat and Independent back home who feel the same way.”