House Democrats to try to force a vote on immigration
March 24th, 2014
04:16 PM ET
6 months ago

House Democrats to try to force a vote on immigration

Washington (CNN) – Hoping to galvanize attention on a hot issue in an election year, House Democrats will launch a formal petition on Wednesday aimed at forcing a vote on comprehensive immigration reform, according to multiple senior Democratic aides.

The legislative maneuver is called a "discharge petition" and has become the recent weapon of choice for Democrats in the congressional chamber where Republicans call the shots.

A discharge petition can force a vote on a piece of legislation if a majority of House members, or 218 of the 435 members, sign it.

No one expects Democrats to reach that mark, but Wednesday, they are clearly hoping to get some attention.

Lawmakers from the party will gather on the east steps of the U.S. Capitol to announce the petition and then walk en masse into the House chamber to file it, the aides told CNN.

The bill in this discharge petition is H.R. 15, which is similar to the measure passed by the Democratic controlled Senate last year in giving most undocumented immigrants a legal status and the possibility of citizenship. The Senate bill passed last June, but was quickly derided by House Republican leaders.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and others in his leadership have stressed that they oppose a sweeping immigration bill in principle. Instead Boehner has said the issue should be tackled in smaller, separate bills, starting with a focus on border security and enforcement. Practically speaking, Republicans House leaders have yet to move any significant immigration bills forward this session.

Democrats are trying to breathe some life into the issue with the discharge petition. The bill Democrats will push Wednesday has a whopping 200 co-sponsors, but that seems to be the maximum support it can gather for the moment. And while three of those co-sponsors are Republicans, at least two of them will not sign the discharge petition. The offices of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, and Rep. David Valadao, R-California, told CNN the two Republicans cosponsors see the petition as a political move.

"He's very supportive of bringing the bill to the floor," said Valadao's communications director, Anna Raquel Vetter, "But a discharge petition is legislatively not productive… if they had 218 votes for the bill, this wouldn't be an issue."

This will be the third big-ticket item to garner a discharge effort from Democrats, following similar petitions on an increase in the minimum wage and an unemployment benefits extension. Those petitions each have just over 190 signatures.

CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report


Filed under: House Democrats • Immigration
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Good. Democrats need to push an infrastructure bill. Our rails, roads, and bridges took quite the beating this past winter.

    March 24, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    Instead Boehner has said the issue should be tackled in smaller, separate bills, starting with a focus on border security and enforcement. Practically speaking, Republicans House leaders have yet to move any significant immigration bills forward this session.
    ---------------------------
    What's the hold up? If they want a piece-meal bill, they have to start somewhere. Why are they procrastinating? Small business leaders need to put pressure on republicans because they want immigration reform passed too.

    March 24, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. smith

    Boehner is right about smaller bills that tackle the problems directly. Why lump everything into one bill? When that happends critical points in the bill can be overlooked. The ACA is a great example where to much junk was lumped into one bill. Now we see that the ACA is really a pile of crap.

    March 24, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Marie MD

    Don't TRY – DO IT!!!

    March 24, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    These are national dire needs, term-limits to senate/congress, immigration reform, voter reform, ear-mark reform, filibuster reform, infrastructure–long overdue. Pass stricter immigration reform. Nation's long overdue.

    March 24, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. Chris-E...al

    Dems are real smart ppL wont care if we lie to them just give em free cell phones text em all before the elections ? Better v0te for us or l0se your cell ph or welfare or food b.c. pills or whatever an 0n an 0n i wonder whats next ? I can only imagine ?

    March 24, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. sonnie3

    Just like in grade school these libbies are having a little show and tell story hour. And that is the kind of leadership we have today and our potus is no leader at all. He just campaign's and divides America. Treason comes to mind.

    March 24, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    @Rudy NYC
    Good. Democrats need to push an infrastructure bill. Our rails, roads, and bridges took quite the beating this past winter.
    -------
    To which the GOP response will be NO – NO NO NO NO.

    March 24, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. sonnie3

    This irrelevant move will not save the demo crats this fall.

    March 24, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Speaker Boehner's proposal to pass immigration reform with smaller separate bills is an act of cowardice to pander to the anti-immigration wing of his party. Republican outreach efforts to Hispanic voters is a hollow gesture when they are on the wrong side of history.

    March 24, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Richad

    Most american are against this, I hope if fails miserable.

    March 24, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. GOP = Greed Over People

    "Just like in grade school these libbies are having a little show and tell story hour".

    And ready "Green Eggs and Ham" from the floor of the Senate, was ssssoooooo very adult

    March 24, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @Chris-E...al
    Dems are real smart ppL wont care if we lie to them just give em free cell phones text em all before the elections ? Better v0te for us or l0se your cell ph or welfare or food b.c. pills or whatever an 0n an 0n i wonder whats next ? I can only imagine ?
    ---------–
    I think you have done enough unsubstantiated "imagine" for one day.
    Cell phone conspiracy theory is a new one on me.
    I will bet you use zero in place of oh to keep the aliens from tracking you.

    March 24, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. hanlu

    I said it before and I'll say it again the Clintons have no business running for presidential office

    March 24, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. John Q Public

    Legalize Breaking-and-Entering!
    It is a human right for me to break into your house and take residence in your living room.
    It is a human right for you to pay for my food, shelter, healthcare, and college education.
    It is a human right for my to violate established laws!
    Breaking-and-Entering 2014!

    March 24, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Right on RUDY NYC! Its about time you took the democrats to task for doing nothing!

    March 24, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. Gop m

    we gonna wait for GOP in this year .2014

    March 24, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  18. don in albuquerque

    Chris-E

    Don't mean to shock you but............the free phones was a W idea and program. What's next? All children graduating from grade school will have to be able to write a complete sentence. I know, I know, it's socialism.

    March 24, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |