Paul Ryan and the Immigration Debacle

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A group of bipartisan lawmakers are putting House Speaker Paul Ryan in the hot seat over immigration legislation.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike are placing increasing pressure on Ryan to make a final commitment to bring open debates regarding immigration to the floor and to allow open debates in a manner similar to the Senate.

The Bipartisan group, self-titled the Problem Solvers Caucus, wrote to the Speaker of House in a series of requests to make a clear commitment to call to the floor a bill that would ultimately resolve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) that President Trump ended. Permits will begin expiring under the ended DACA program March 5, and current permits will be honored until their individual two-year expiration date.

Additionally, lawmakers are calling for a commitment to an open process that would provide bipartisanship regarding the issue of immigration.

“Specifically, we seek your commitment that the House will debate and vote on all serious and substantive proposals, particularly those offered on a bipartisan basis, as well as any bill approved by the full Senate,” wrote Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan and Democrat Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont. The representatives also declared that a so-called “Queen of the Hill” rule should be employed, which establishes the proposal receiving the most votes as the position of the entire House.

The Problem Solvers Caucus is composed of 48 members of the House and is split evenly by party.

Ryan has responded by saying he will observe the “Hastert Rule” of not calling any legislation that does not have the support of a majority of Republicans.

The call comes after a request from Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi on the House floor to urge Ryan to make the same type of commitment that Mitch McConnell did to hold a neutral immigration debate. Pelosi declared that this is essential before voting on a government funding deal.

Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, also a member of Problem Solvers, said he is “uncomfortable” supporting the budget deal without their commitment and that willingness to work on the issue is simply not enough.

“Work on immigration is one thing; we’ve been working on immigration for a long time,” Curbelo said. He added that he is looking for a genuine commitment to take legislation to the floor and for that intention to be clearly expressed.

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