Trump has whipped up a storm of anti-immigrant fervor (with the considerable assistance of Steve Bannon). He seems to delight in firing up his base with tales of MS-13 gang member activities and then avoiding any distinction between gang members and immigrants in general. His crowds eat it up. To be sure, in his mercurial way he did once throw out a lifeline to DACA recipients, but only after making a show of putting their lives in jeopardy by announcing he would cancel DACA this spring. (So far, that is mostly stalled in the courts, but DACA recipients live lives of ongoing insecurity.)
I was surprised at the Green Bluff Town Closet to hear McMorris Rodgers say they were working hard on a “deal” in the House that would give relief to DACA recipients, the very people that her President has been threatening with deportation and using as a bargaining chip since last fall. It seems clear that if offering DACA recipients a path to citizenship were to come to a clean vote it would pass both the House and Senate. So when she spoke of a “discharge petition” around DACA I briefly dared to hope.
If an absolute majority of the House sign a discharge petition a bill or bills will be “discharged” from committee and voted on the House floor. In this particular case a successful discharge petition would bring to a vote on the House floor four competing DACA “solution” bills. The one that gets the most votes would go to the Senate (only if the approval vote of the winning bill is a majority). The parliamentary details are laid out in an article from the this highly right-biased publication RedState. An “absolute majority” of the House (for a discharge petition) is 218. 192 of 193 Democrats have signed on, as have 23 Republicans, making 213. Obviously, Republican leadership (Ryan/McConnell) would not be happy if this reaches 218. It is a black-eye for them.
Here’s where it gets interesting: McMorris Rodgers is NOT a signatory to the discharge petition. I suppose it would be bad form for her, since she is most often seen behind Paul Ryan’s right shoulder. To hear her speak on Tuesday you would be forgiven if you thought she had a lot of sympathy for the Dreamers (DACA recipients) and she were actively “working” on coming to their aid.
She did discuss one “solution:” funding for the wall in exchange for “a path to ‘permanent residency status.'” I asked for clarification: “That is, NOT a path to citizenship, is that right?” I had heard correctly. Her excuse was to claim that “it wouldn’t become law” implying, I guess, that Trump wouldn’t sign it. But who knows what Trump might do on any given day?
Here’s the crux: The Republicans really, really don’t want any more brown skinned voters in their future, especially brown-skinned people whom they have threatened and bullied.
So in summary, Trump riles up the anti-immigrant, racist base of the far right. Trump threatens the Dreamers with deportation claiming DACA was unconstitutional and knowing the Democrats can always be counted on to be sympathetic. Trump sets a time line and bangs the drum for money for his wall. McMorris Rodgers and company offer themselves as saviors who will broker a tough deal the President just might sign, but they are careful NOT to offer citizenship as even an eventual goal. Meanwhile she pretends sympathy but refuses to sign the discharge petition. Her goal: we leave Green Bluff thinking her heart is in the right place and she’s working hard to make things right for the Dreamers. Pretty slick. Is anyone paying attention?
Keep to the high ground,