Over the past six weeks, since U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) promised to restart his efforts to collect signatures on a “discharge petition” to force the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on legislation that would temporarily protect some so-called Dreamers from deportation, Coffman has apparently failed to convince a single Congressman, Democrat or Republican, to sign it.
In fact, since he announced his discharge-petition campaign with great fanfare seven months ago, Coffman has convinced just five members of Congress to sign. And that’s counting Coffman himself.
Coffman needs a total of 218 signatures of House members to force a vote on his bill, called the Bridge Act, which would grant some Dreamers, protected under Obama’s DACA program, three years of safety from deportation while Congress works on a permanent legislative fix. Coffman’s Bridge Act should not be confused with the DREAM Act, which would protect Dreamers from deportation and grant them a path to citizenship.
Why so much talking and so little walking by Coffman? His office did not return an email seeking an explanation.
But it appears likely that Coffman has simply dropped the ball on his petition, given the fact that, over about the same period of time, a bipartisan group of 196 House Members, including Coffman, signed a discharge petition, pushed by U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) to force a vote on the Dream Act. (Coffman recently said he would not support the Dream Act because it’s “unrealistic.”)
Coffman’s paralysis on his much-trumpeted discharge petition hasn’t stopped the Congressman from blowing his horn at Trump for attacking the Dreamers on Easter.
“The Presidents DACA announcement couldn’t have come at a worst time,” tweeted Coffman. “Easter is a day for many to rejoice and come together— not to put more anxiety on young people. It’s time for Members on both sides of the aisle to join forces and find a permanent solution for DACA recipients.”
DACA recipients, whose deportation has been delayed due to court decisions, are undoubtedly not rejoicing that Coffman has managed to find only four “members on both sides of the aisle,” aside from himself, to sign his own discharge petition. These are U.S. Representatives Jared Polis of Colorado, Bobby Rush of Illinois, Adam Smith of Washington, and Dina Titus of Nevada. If Coffman has found more signatories, they haven’t been recorded by the House Clerk.
Coffman grabbed the media spotlight seven months ago when he pledged to force a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to protect DACA recipients from deportation. Within days of his initial promise, he backtracked, saying he’d only try to force a vote if Congress did not find a solution after Trump officially ended the program March 5.
It’s widely believed that if House Republicans would allow a vote on Coffman’s Bridge legislation or the Dream Act, it would pass.