Politics

Donald Trump opposes Carlos Curbelo's plan to force an immigration vote in Congress

In this Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Trump is calling for “Merit Based immigration” following the truck attack in New York City that killed eight people and injured 11.
In this Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Trump is calling for “Merit Based immigration” following the truck attack in New York City that killed eight people and injured 11.

The White House is not on board with Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo's plan to force a series of immigration votes in the House of Representatives.

President Donald Trump's legislative director, Marc Short, said Friday that the White House opposes Curbelo's plan because it is mostly supported by Democrats and not Republicans.

"That would be like turning over the House to [Democratic leader] Nancy Pelosi," Short said.

The White House had previously not responded when asked about Curbelo's effort over the past few weeks.

Curbelo initiated a petition on May 9 to change the nation's immigration laws after years of inaction, and he's been furiously trying to rally dissatisfied Republicans over the past three weeks to bypass House Speaker Paul Ryan. So far, Curbelo has garnered 23 Republican signatures for his petition, including those of Miami Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart. He needs two more GOP lawmakers to sign — along with every single Democrat in the House — for the petition to work, though several Democrats have yet to sign on. The petition would force a vote on the House floor on several immigration bills.

Curbelo's spokesperson said the White House shouldn't interfere with the House's efforts to find an immigration compromise, and that their effort is compatible with Trump's call for action last year.

"The goal of those leading the discharge petition effort is to force the House to answer the President's call for legislative action on immigration and deliver a product that can be signed into law," Curbelo spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez said in an email. "White House staff should remain focused on advancing the Administration's objectives without interfering with efforts in Congress to break the long history of inertia, cowardice, and failure on immigration policy."

Short did not say whether the White House would insist on an immigration plan that includes the president's ideas to expand border security funding, limiting family sponsorship of green cards to spouses and minor children, eliminating the diversity visa program and granting DACA recipients a 10-year path to citizenship. Trump's immigration plan was part of slew of votes in the U.S. Senate earlier this year on immigration, though it fell 21 votes short of the 60 needed to pass.

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Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who lost his reelection bid, says he’s considering running for Miami-Dade mayor in 2020. el Nuevo Herald File

White House opposition could deter more Republicans from joining Curbelo's effort to force immigration votes in the GOP-controlled House, but it also creates distance between the Republicans who signed the petition and the president. That could be a political benefit for members like Curbelo who are running for reelection in districts that Trump lost in 2016.

If Curbelo's petition is successful, it would force a series of votes on four immigration bills in either June or July. The first bill is a conservative plan backed by Trump and the majority of Republicans, but it does not have enough support to pass. The second bill is the DREAM Act, a bill that protects DACA recipients and DACA-eligible young people who didn't sign up for the program from deportation and gives them a path to citizenship. The third bill gives DACA-eligible young people a path to citizenship while also including funding for border security. The fourth bill is a bill of Ryan's choosing.

Curbelo and the other petition signers do not generally support the conservative immigration bill and want to see a vote on other bills. The bill that receives the most support beyond a simple majority heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Curbelo did not immediately respond to a request for direct comment on the White House's opposition.

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