May 30, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

District's Latest Immigration News Comes at Key Time for Congress

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Gray said he intends to push legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses in D.C. Even though the D.C. proposal taps on the hot-button issue of immigration, members of Congress don’t seem likely to invest themselves in defeating it.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., is the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and has cited Congress’ “constitutional authority” over the District in cases where he has sought to curb abortion practices in D.C.

In the 112th Congress, he introduced legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C. It failed to get the two-thirds majority required to pass on the House floor under suspension of the rules, and he said he plans to push for the bill’s consideration again this year.

He suggested, however, that his interest in D.C. affairs ended at the abortion debate: “I’m the Constitution chairman, so I gotta pay attention to these sort of things, but otherwise I don’t have any specific focus on D.C. at all,” Franks told CQ Roll Call after describing his concern with the District’s lack of restrictions on when abortion can be performed. As for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, he said only that he generally was unsupportive.

On the opposite side of the issue, a handful of House Democrats who support the initiative in D.C. and in the other five states said they don’t expect the issue to come up in any prominent way when discussions about an immigration overhaul begin on the House side.

“Given the positive nature of the discussion and the uplifting debate that we’re having, I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., one of the chamber’s key players in drafting the chamber’s immigration proposal. “I don’t foresee it as a problem.”

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