U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) announced Wednesday that he supports a parliamentary maneuver to force a long-stalled vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on legislation to protect some young immigrants, known as Dreamers, from deportation.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has been blocking his chamber from voting on a Dreamer bill.
To get around Ryan, lawmakers of both parties have resorted to so-called “discharge petitions,” which force a House vote if signed by 218 House Members.
Democrats couldn’t hit the required 218 signatures to vote on a Dreamer bill, which would grant not only protection from deportation but citizenship to young immigrants who entered this country illegally as children. And Coffman could only find five House members to sign a discharge petition for a vote on a bill protecting some Dreamers for three years.
The latest effort, called “Queen of the Hill,” would involve votes on four different Dreamer bills, including one to be offered by Ryan. The legislation with the most votes would be sent to the U.S. Senate.
The Queen of the Hill approach had the support of 240 House members when it was announced last month, but it stalled due to opposition by Ryan, who controls all votes in the House.
Coffman said Wednesday that he’s “proud” to be part of the latest bipartisan effort, which may have the best shot of passing the House since the chamber considered a bipartisan and comprehensive immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013 by a vote of 68-32 but died in the House.
The 2013 comprehensive immigration bill, which Coffman opposed, included the Dream Act.
Republican Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana hopes to stop 25 Republicans from signing the Queen of the Hill discharge petition. That’s the number of GOP signatures, including Coffman’s, that are needed if all Democrats sign. Colorado’s Representatives Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton have not signed the petition.
“I’m not a believer in discharge petitions because you’re turning the floor over to Democrats,” Scalise said, as reported in The Hill. “I hope the discharge petition doesn’t get the signatures and we continue to work the legislative process to solve this problem … I’ve talked to some Members about the importance of keeping control of the legislative vehicle and solving the problem on our terms where we focus on solutions, not politics.”