GOP Face of Democratic DACA Demand Not Supporting Leverage Move

Hurd: ‘I don’t know why there’s reticence to having a vote on something like this.’

Texas Rep. Will Hurd doesn’t want to risk a government shutdown for a vote on his immigration bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats have a ransom problem. A key ally doesn’t support them holding this specific “hostage.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and some Democrats are trying to leverage the budget vote to extract a vote on an unrelated immigration bill.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan used the “hostage” language, but the Republican author of the bipartisan immigration measure Democrats are pushing is not backing Pelosi & Co.’s effort either, even though he agrees with the underlying request.

“I’ve been supportive of funding our government, so I think we should just have a clear and easy [vote],” Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd said. “I don’t know why there’s reticence to having a vote on something like this.”

Hurd said he’d most likely vote for the budget deal but said he never reveals his actual vote until after casting it, in case of last-minute changes.

While Hurd, one of the most vulnerable incumbents this year, obviously wants a vote on the bipartisan immigration bill he authored with California Democrat Pete Aguilar, he just doesn’t want to risk a government shutdown to get it.

“I’ve made it very clear,” he said. “My name is obviously on it. … We [should] get it to the president’s desk. And if people have some suggestions, let’s have them in there.”

Watch: Ryan — I Don’t Want to Risk a Veto On Immigration Bill That Trump Doesn’t Support

Democrats aren’t demanding a solo vote on the Hurd-Aguilar bill. They’ve said they would like an open debate under a rule known as “queen of the hill” that would allow Republicans to put up on the floor a conservative bill by House Judiciary and any other measure they want.

But under queen of the hill rules, the bill with the most votes above the required simple-majority threshold wins. Of the existing immigration proposals the House has to choose from, the most likely top vote-getter would be Hurd-Aguilar.

Ryan on Thursday committed to a floor vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program at some point and signaled it would come before the March 5 deadline. But he wouldn’t commit to the rule it would be brought up under. He stressed he still stands by his position that he would only bring up a bill that has President Donald Trump’s support because he doesn’t want to risk a veto.

Trump opposes the Hurd-Aguilar measure, which has a companion Senate measure introduced this week by Arizona Republican John McCain and Delaware Democrat Chris Coons.

Hurd said he supports the queen of the hill strategy. A handful of other moderate Republicans signed on to a Problem Solvers Caucus letter to Ryan Wednesday also backing that process.

“This isn’t rocket science,” Hurd said. “Let’s have an open process.”

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