The House on Thursday rejected, 193-231, an immigration bill conservatives favor, as GOP leaders delayed a vote on a compromise immigration bill moderate Republicans prefer.
The vote on final passage of the compromise measure, originally scheduled for Thursday evening, is being moved to Friday to provide more time to answer members' questions about the bill, GOP aides confirmed.
The bill, which was formally introduced Tuesday evening, was negotiated in recent weeks by the various GOP factions but currently lacks enough support to pass.
Republican leaders had been predicting for months that the conservative measure Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte introduced in January could not pass the House either. But the 193 Republican "yes" votes the rejected measure received Thursday was more than most lawmakers had predicted it would get.
The vast majority of the 41 Republicans who voted against the Goodlatte bill are more moderate members, many of whom face tough re-election races in November. A handful of the "no" votes came from immigration hardliners who oppose all the bills the House has been debating to provide legal status to young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers.
All 190 Democrats who were present voted against the Goodlatte bill; three Democrats did not vote.
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The Goodlatte bill did not include many changes he’d been working on over the past few months to improve the bill’s chances for passage. In the hours before the vote, members were still confused about which provisions made it in and which did not.
The only changes made during a Rules Committee meeting Wednesday involved a provision dealing with agricultural visas and a clarification that Border Patrol agents operating on federal land are subject to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a Judiciary Committee aide said.
The measure authorizes nearly $25 billion in border security funding, most of which would go to build a wall along the southern border. Some members had hoped the bill would be updated to appropriate the money — as included in the compromise bill — but that change did not occur.
Regarding the roughly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants sheltered from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Goodlatte bill provides them with indefinite renewals for a three-year nonimmigrant legal status. Goodlatte had been willing to revise that to six years but that change also was not incorporated in the bill.
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The Goodlatte bill is considered more conservative than the compromise measure because of it’s limited approach to DACA and because it cuts legal immigration and includes more provisions dealing with interior enforcement.
Conservatives feel that GOP leaders did not work hard enough to secure support for the bill and were frustrated that leadership did not allow most of Goodlatte’s changes to be incorporated in the bill.
Leaders have spent the past 24 hours or so working with President Donald Trump to whip support for the compromise bill, hauling Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to meet with House Republicans in the Capitol, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows pointed out during a conservative member press event with reporters.
“We’ve had the president advocating on behalf of the compromise bill,” the North Carolina Republican said. “But for seven months on the Goodlatte bill there’s been none of that. There’s a real frustration there.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, the founding chairman of the Freedom Caucus, also pointed blame at more moderate members of the GOP conference who he said are unwilling to support immigration policies that Trump and Republicans campaigned on in 2016.
“That bill is entirely consistent with the mandate of our election,” the Ohio Republican said of the conservative Goodlatte measure. “The reason is it’s not going to pass is not enough members are willing to do what we say, plain and simple.”
Dean DeChiaro contributed to this report.