House defeats GOP immigration bill

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (right), joined by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, talks to reporters following a GOP strategy session at the Capitol on Tuesday. (Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Republican-led House resoundingly rejected a far-ranging immigration bill Wednesday despite an eleventh-hour endorsement by President Donald Trump, as the gulf between the GOP’s moderate and conservative wings proved too deep for leaders to avert an awkward election-year display of division.

The bill was killed 301-121, with nearly half of Republicans opposing the measure. The depth of GOP opposition was an embarrassing showing for Trump and a rebuff of House leaders, who’d postponed the vote twice and proposed changes in hopes of driving up the tally for a measure that seemed doomed from the start.

The compromise bill would have provided nearly $25 billion in funding for Trump’s border wall, limited legal and illegal immigration, provided protection from deportation and a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers, and keep undocumented families together who had crossed the border if the parents were facing prosecution.

Conservatives have opposed the bill’s provision offering a chance at citizenship for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children. Calling it amnesty, they have said it doesn’t do enough to limit the number of relatives who immigrants here legally can sponsor for residence.

Even if it passed, the bill rejected Wednesday would have been dead on arrival in the closely divided Senate, where Democrats have enough votes to kill it. House Democrats voted unanimously against it.

The vote capped months of futile GOP efforts to pass wide-ranging legislation on an issue that could color scores of congressional races in this fall’s contest for House and perhaps Senate control. The Senate rejected three proposals in February, including one reflecting Trump’s hard-line policies and two bipartisan plans.

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