Vulnerable House Republicans have an incentive to buck their party's own leadership by backing protections for "Dreamers" and forcing a vote on immigration reform, The Hill reported Sunday.
This is because many of the Republicans in tight races for the upcoming congressional elections are in districts where moderate GOP voters and independents can determine the outcome, and these voters support securing protections for Dreamers, immigrants who were brought to America illegally as children.
"Their constituents want action, particularly on something like [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals]," said former Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, a former head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "There's an intensity in the districts to get something done, and you are supporting a leadership that doesn't want to move. You're going to stand on your head and do whatever it takes to make sure that the people don't hold this against you."
GOP Reps. Carlos Curbelo from Florida and Jeff Denham from California are leading the charge on the Republican side and have been joined by 21 other GOP lawmakers who are siding with Democrats to force the Republican leadership's hand on immigration with a discharge petition. Only five more signatures are needed to trigger a series of votes on the immigration issue.
Conservatives in Congress are warning that bypassing Speaker Paul Ryan will make Republicans look weak, and House passage of a DACA bill would risk alienating conservative voters and depress GOP turnout in the midterms.
But those Republicans running in swing districts are not persuaded by this argument, especially those who are in areas where Hispanics are a significant proportion of their constituents.
Ryan told ABC News that a discharge petition is not a good idea, because it "will not produce a result that will make it into law, and so we're having very constructive conversations with our members about how we can find consensus on a bill that could actually solve the problem and make it into law."
However, the Republican leadership is also facing pressure from some donors to push for a vote on legislation protecting Dreamers, Politico reported.
One such multi-millionaire Republican donor, John Rowe, has warned that he will cut back or eliminate contributions completely to GOP congressmen who refuse to sign onto the discharge petition.
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