Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Immigration Overhaul: Democrats Look to Flip 30 House Republicans

Rep. jared Polis

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats are holding out hope that their discharge petition on a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill can still work — or at least be used as election-year ammo.

House Democrats held a conference call Tuesday to announce their intention to distribute a memo in the districts of 30 House Republicans who have signaled support for an immigration overhaul previously. Democrats are calling on these Republicans, and others, to “put their pen where their mouth is,” as Colorado Democrat Jared Polis put it, and sign the discharge petition for HR 15, the companion bill to the Senate-passed immigration bill.

The discharge petition for the House bill currently has 191 Democratic signatures, meaning nine Democrats still haven’t signed on to the effort. There are, however, 200 co-sponsors for the bill, including three Republicans: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California.

Democrats hope the additional pressure will move Republicans to sign on to the discharge petition.

“There are enough votes to get this done,” said Florida Democrat Joe Garcia. “There is a deaf ear. His name is John Boehner.”

Speaker John A. Boehner repeatedly has said he would prefer to do an immigration overhaul piece by piece. However, with Republicans saying they don’t trust President Barack Obama to implement the law as intended, the Ohio Republican admits it would be difficult to move any immigration legislation this year.

The president has said he will implement elements of an immigration overhaul through executive order if Congress doesn’t act, and the Democratic effort to bring the bill to the floor may provide some cover to the president if he does move unilaterally, signaling to Americans that Democrats at least tried to implement an overhaul legislatively before appealing to the president.

The president held a meeting with faith leaders Tuesday to discuss immigration, and, according to a White House readout of the meeting, Obama “emphasized that while his administration can take steps to better enforce and administer immigration laws, nothing can replace the certainty of legislative reform and this permanent solution can only be achieved by Congress.”

CQ Roll Call polled every House Republican earlier this year on whether they support the immigration principles that GOP leadership brought to them during their yearly retreat. Only 18 Republicans have said they support the principles.

On Tuesday, CQ Roll Call asked one of the 30 Republicans who is being targeted by Democrats — and who did not initially respond to our poll — Republican Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, whether he supported the principles. Kelly would not give a “yes” or “no” on the principles, opting for a more nuanced position that, yes, he’d like to see some aspects of an immigration overhaul, but, no, this is not an issue that is at the forefront of his mind or the minds of his Western Pennsylvania constituents.

He said he doesn’t feel any pressure to sign the discharge petition, and Democrats probably shouldn’t expect any Republican at this point to go along with the effort.

The 29 other House Republicans currently being targeted include:

Justin Amash of Michigan

Mark Amodei of Nevada

Spencer Bachus of Alabama

John Carter of Texas

Jason Chaffetz of Utah

Mike Coffman of Colorado

Jeff Denham of California

Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida

Sean P. Duffy of Wisconsin

Renee Ellmers of North Carolina

Tim Griffin of Arkansas

Michael G. Grimm of New York

Joe Heck of Nevada

Darrell Issa of California

Sam Johnson of Texas

Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho

James Lankford of Oklahoma

Peter T. King of New York

Vance McAllister of Louisiana

Devin Nunes of California

Steve Pearce of New Mexico

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida

Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin

Aaron Schock of Illinois

Chris Stewart of Utah

David Valadao of California

Greg Walden of Oregon

Daniel Webster of Florida

Don Young of Alaska

Of the 30 members targeted, eight told CQ Roll Call they back the principles: Amodei, Denham, Diaz-Balart, Ellmers, Heck, King, Ryan and Valadao. Pearce, who is also targeted, told us he could possibly support them; Griffin told us he doesn’t support the principles; Labrador told us it wasn’t the right time; Schock and Young said they were undecided; Carter, Nunes and Ros-Lehtinen declined to comment; and the other 14 — Amash, Bachus, Chaffetz, Coffman, Duffy, Grimm, Issa, Johnson, Kelly, Lankford, McAllister, Stewart, Walden and Webster — did not respond to our repeated attempts to get an answer.

  • Dantes

    As much as the Beltway RINOs want amnesty, I think they have figured out that immigration reform would kill them in November. As for the democrats, they are pinning their hopes on a pipe dream. Nobody cares if there is no immigration reform, except for the people invested in it.

    • Chris G. Foltz


  • Kimo

    Any RINO who votes for amnesty must be removed from office, along with all the Democrats. The Democrats know they are toast and are all going to be turned out in the next election, so they are desperately grasping for any issue they can gin up. Stand firm and throw them all out.

    • Borderhawk

      We can either have a RINO from 2014-2024 working with Pelosi. Or we can have a conservative from 2016-2024 working with conservatives. In a few races it is better to let a RINO lose to a democrat then a conservative can come back. Like Grimm.

      • Chris G. Foltz

        why not a TEA PARTY INDEPENDENT… no to the 1 party system!

  • Brenda Huddleston

    The Amnesty overhaul is something that must be done with a great deal of consideration and cannot be rushed. DO NOT let the Democrats play their silly game with you. Stand firm!

  • papal

    Not going to happen now that the repubs have an excuse not to. That excuse is Obama is not enforcing laws now so why waste time passing new laws to not be enforced. Dems just trying to get more voters to show up and help dems overcome the stench of Obamacare.

  • Forums4Justice

    Might need to update the House Republican Legalization Amnesty Pukes

  • teapartydoc

    This is all ground prep to try and control the issues at large for the Fall elections. I think the Repub Establishment may be stupid enough to fall for this.

  • Michael Lang

    What a waste of time. Dimos should stop with the desperate ploys, bend over and take what is coming to them in November.

  • Willys

    “put their pen where their mouth is”

    That’s an old trick. Seems that’s what Pelosi and the Dems did with ObamaCare. Have to wait for the ink to dry to read it.

    Old Democratic bait and switch.

  • DaMav

    The real immigration issue is how the President and Attorney General can unilaterally decide to stop enforcing our laws for political convenience.

  • DrGeneNelson

    The fact that “The discharge petition for the House bill currently has 191 Democratic signatures, meaning ***nine*** Democrats still haven’t signed on to the effort” should tell the immigration amnesty supporters that they are facing election year headwinds. The record high levels of immigration that began with the Immigration Act of 1990 have permanently displaced millions of Americans from their careers. Instead of restoring immigration to much lower traditional levels, the Democrat sponsors heap another “stunt” atop the discharge petition stunt and attempt to blame Republicans. The actions get covered in Roll Call, but won’t help the Democrats about six months from now on election day.

  • bittman

    Even the Hispanics don’t like Obamacare so the Dems have a real battle to fight to preserve the seats the hold. All Americans know the Dems lied when they told us we could keep our healthcare plan, we could keep our doctors, and our costs would go down $2,500. We will soon learn that the White has lied about the Obamacare enrollment numbers. Don’t ever forget that polls taken in 2009 when the Dems in the House insisted on passing Obamacare indicated that 87% of Americans were satisfied with their healthcare. Everything that is wrong with Obamacare has been caused by something the government did or didn’t do.

  • Chris G. Foltz

    simple-minded sons-o-bitches will be GONE IN NOVEMBER !!!

  • annjohns

    michael grimm? now we know why!

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