Rogue House Republicans File Discharge Petition to Force Amnesty Votes
By Heather Ham-Warren | May 10, 2018
On Wednesday, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) filed a discharge petition that could force a vote on Rep. Jeff Denham’s (R-Calif.) “queen-of-the-Hill” resolution. Until this point, House leadership has demonstrated little urgency in bringing immigration legislation to the floor. Likely because Speaker Ryan (R-Wis.) previously promised his caucus that he would not raise any immigration bills that do not have the support of the majority of the Republican Members.
By Thursday morning, seventeen House Republicans had already gone to the floor to lend their support to the discharge petition. While this may seem miniscule, it is not an insignificant number. A discharge petition is an obscure procedural maneuver used to bypass House leadership and the committee process and immediately bring a bill to the House floor for a vote. To be successful, a discharge petition must be signed by a 218 Members—a majority of the House. Undoubtedly, all 193 Democrats will sign the petition when the time comes, meaning that Rep. Curbelo and his co-conspirators only need to secure 25 Republican signatures to force a vote.
The topic at the heart of the discharge petition is H.Res.774, a resolution that would activate a little known and rarely used procedural rule referred to as “queen-of-the Hill.” Under this rule, multiple alternatives of the same issue may be voted on the floor of the House of Representatives regardless of the results of any previous votes. Following all votes, the alternative with the most votes “wins” and is sent to the Senate for consideration. Although some conservatives may be encouraged that the discharge petition will lead to a vote on Chairman Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) Securing America’s Future Act, it is important for Members to be realistic about the bills in question.
The four immigration-related bills that could be considered are:
- H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act: Led by Rep. Goodlatte: Currently has 95 cosponsors- 95 Republicans and 0 Democrats
- H.R. 3440, the Dream Act of 2017: Led by Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.): Currently has 202 cosponsors- 6 Republicans and 196 Democrats
- H.R. 4796, the USA Act of 2018: Led by Rep. Hurd (R-Texas): Currently has 59 cosponsors- 29 Republicans and 30 Democrats
- A fourth immigration bill to be chosen by the Speaker of the House.
Numbers do not lie. Under a “queen-of-the-Hill” vote, no magic number is required. A bill does not need a majority or percentage to succeed, it just has to beat the other bills. If a vote is forced on the above bills, it is very likely that the Dream Act will pass the House of Representatives. As a reminder, the Dream Act would grant amnesty to as many as 3.5 million illegal aliens—a significantly larger population than those who benefited under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Additionally this mass amnesty would be granted with zero tradeoffs: no wall funding, no end to chain migration, and no interior enforcement.
To see an updated list of lawmakers who have signed the discharge petition, please click here.