In Moment of Bipartisanship, House Democrats and Republicans Take Action That Leads Nowhere

While House Republicans prepared to vote on a doomed border bill, Democrats took over the floor asking for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen on Capitol Hill August 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. It has been reported that the dome has 1,300 known cracks and breaks leaking water to the interior of the Rotunda and needs restorations. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $61 million before the August recess to repair the structure. On Monday, Committee on Rules and Administration chairman Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to support the repairs. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
Aug. 1, 2014, 8 a.m.

Tech­nic­ally it’s re­cess, so it’s no sur­prise that Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats in the House are play­ing games.

The House did not leave town on Thursday af­ter­noon as mem­bers had planned, send­ing up screams from sched­ulers all across the Cap­it­ol cam­pus. While most mem­bers of the Sen­ate, hav­ing failed to pass their own $2.7 bil­lion bor­der bill, were per­fectly happy leav­ing town for a five-week re­cess, that wasn’t good enough for the House.

In­stead, mem­bers re­mained in Wash­ing­ton while House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship huddled to get suf­fi­cient votes for a bor­der bill that’s go­ing ex­actly nowhere, even if it does pass the cham­ber. The bill provides $694 mil­lion to deal with the crisis at the south­ern bor­der — that’s $3 bil­lion less than what Pres­id­ent Obama asked for.

In a Fri­day morn­ing meet­ing, GOP lead­ers offered mem­bers changes to a sep­ar­ate bill deal­ing with Pres­id­ent Obama’s De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram that’s even more polit­ic­ally doomed in the Sen­ate, and would be more likely to find a light­er in the Oval Of­fice than Pres­id­ent Obama’s pen.

Both bills are likely to hit the floor later Fri­day, pos­sibly al­low­ing House mem­bers to leave town just a day late.

Giv­en that they’re stuck in Wash­ing­ton to vote on le­gis­la­tion that’s go­ing nowhere, Demo­crats pulled to­geth­er to of­fer their own rhet­or­ic­al mes­sage. They offered the closest thing they could get to a fili­buster, with more than two dozen mem­bers, led by Rep. Jim McGov­ern, lin­ing up and ask­ing for a vote on com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion re­form.

Each Demo­crat offered some form of this pro­ced­ur­al re­quest: “Mr. Speak­er, I ask un­an­im­ous con­sent to bring H.R. 15, a bi­par­tis­an com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion re­form bill, to prop­erly ad­dress the hu­man­it­ari­an crisis at the bor­der.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., sat near the po­di­um look­ing bored, deny­ing each re­quest. The scene was not un­like a fam­ily road trip peppered with an end­less chor­us of, “Are we there yet?”

You can see the video of roughly the first 10 minutes be­low:{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5141) }}

Giv­en their po­s­i­tion in the minor­ity, Demo­crats couldn’t have done much else.

For their part, House Re­pub­lic­ans said they were glad to go home hav­ing offered a solu­tion to the prob­lems at the bor­der, re­gard­less of wheth­er it be­comes law. “There’s al­ways hope the Sen­ate will come to their senses,” House Ap­pro­pri­ations Chair­man Har­old Ro­gers, R-Ky., ad­ded. “I would hope the Sen­ate would come back and do their job.”

That, an aide to Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id said, ain’t gonna hap­pen.

The day’s events al­low mem­bers on each side of the aisle to go back to their dis­tricts for a five-week sea­son of cam­paign­ing, telling con­stitu­ents, “We tried!” While ul­ti­mately, do­ing noth­ing to deal with the bor­der crisis.

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