“At the end of the day, frontliners are our majority makers and there is no reason to force them to take a tough vote,” the aide said, noting that the House would ultimately still need to negotiate with the Senate GOP to avert a government shutdown this fall. Congress is widely expected to enact a stopgap measure in September and punt any major funding decisions until after the November election.
The House had planned to take up the Department of Homeland Security funding measure on Friday, as part of a seven-bill, $ 1.4 trillion minibus. The package will now include just six bills, and is expected to easily pass.
The decision by Democratic leaders — while a relief for more moderate members — is a disappointment for appropriators, who had laced the bill with language to curb the Trump administration’s immigration agenda and cut Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.
“This is probably the most progressive Homeland Security bill that has ever been presented to the House,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), the chair of the Homeland Security spending panel, said last week.
“It literally has everything in it that the advocates, the members, have told me over the years, had to be in the bill,” said Roybal-Allard, ticking off provisions that limit the number of detention beds and prevent the Trump administration from moving money around for its immigration priorities.
Democrats had also crafted an amendment to the DHS bill to block federal funding for the administration’s use of paramilitary action to quell protests in Oregon and Washington state, in hopes of winning over more progressive votes.
But leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus made clear that the amendment wasn’t enough, and had been pressing leadership to strip the measure from the minibus.
“Voting to put so much money into this agency, at this moment, when these bills aren’t going to go anywhere in the Senate, I think makes no sense whatsoever,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the CPC, said in an interview last week.
The reversal comes after several weeks of complaints from many Democrats, who questioned the merits of voting on a contentious immigration bill on the floor in an election-year, when it stood no chance of becoming law and would only highlight party divisions on the issue.
Immigration policy in the Trump era has been so divisive among Democrats that the caucus also failed to pass their own Homeland Security funding bill last year.
A House Democratic aide said progressives “had little role“ in the final decision to pull the DHS funding bill from the massive minibus, given that several of those members were already expected to oppose the broader measure. Liberals have also criticized the defense spending measure and the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion.
“The result is that the House won’t pass a bill that would have dramatically cut ICE detention and reined in the Trump administration,” the aide said. “It’s just like last summer’s border bill: by making the perfect the enemy of the good, the progressives end up with nothing.”
The DHS funding measure did have the backing of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, however.
In a Dear Colleague letter sent last week, CHC Chair Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) said the CHC supports the legislation because it includes a number of provisions that would undercut the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, end funding for the border wall and prohibit the president from moving money around to fund his priorities.
“We recognize that the Homeland Security Appropriations bill does not include 100 percent of what we want, but it represents a significant step forward toward achieving our goals,” he wrote in the letter, which was obtained by POLITICO.
“Further, it ensures our leadership has a strong negotiating position to keep our House priorities in a final appropriations package after the end of this fiscal year on September 30th,” he wrote.