WASHINGTON – The U.S. House resoundingly rejected a major immigration bill on Wednesday.
Despite a massive push from House GOP leadership, members of the Republican conference were unable to square away differences on a bill that would have provided funding for a border wall and a pathway to citizenship for recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as "Dreamers."
The vote failed by a lopsided 121-301.
President Donald Trump – after well over a week of flip-flopping on the legislation – backed the bill Wednesday morning.
"HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE. PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!" the president tweeted.
House GOP leadership put forward the bill in an attempt to tamp down a revolt from the moderate wing of the party. In an end-run around their leaders, Republican moderates, like U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes, spent the early summer deploying an obscure procedural tactic called a discharge petition in order to force a vote on several immigration bills.
Most of the 36-member Texas delegation voted against the bill, including all the Democrats. Only Republican U.S. Reps. Joe Barton of Ennis, Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, Mike Conaway of Midland, Bill Flores of Bryan, Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, Michael McCaul of Austin and Mac Thornberry of Clarendon voted for the bill. Hurd voted against the bill.
Last week, a more conservative bill also failed on the House floor. House leaders had originally intended the compromise vote to take place on the same day. Amid concerns that the more moderate bill might not only fail but do so spectacularly, they kicked the vote back to this week, hoping to shore up support.
While Republicans called the measure a "compromise bill," the dealmaking occurred solely among members of the GOP. Democrats were not a part of the process and unanimously opposed the bill.
The debate over this legislation began weeks ago, long before the immigration crisis on the border involving the separation of families exploded into the national consciousness – but it has no doubt been affected by the controversy.
Despite all of the effort, the bill's would have faced trouble in the U.S. Senate had it passed out of the House. Few Capitol Hill insiders believed the House compromise version had any shot in the upper chamber.