Romer: On immigration, Congress may need ‘Queen of the Hill’ moment (column)
For the past year, immigration advocates have been pushing Congress to act on legislation to protect Dreamers.
On Sept. 5, 2017, President Donald Trump rescinded the executive action for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients and asked Congress to send him a legislative fix that provided protections for Dreamers and funding to further border security efforts.
Despite the president imploring action, the six-month deadline passed on March 5, and the House has yet to have a single vote on any DACA-related bills, as all relevant legislation is being held up in the committees of jurisdiction — even though the 86 percent of Americans want Congress to address the DACA situation. At the very least, members of congress should have the chance to debate and vote on these important issues.
That is where the “Queen of the Hill” rule comes into play. This is an infrequently used special rule that can be invoked by house resolution that can pressure leadership to allow floor debate and a vote on legislation. In the face of the termination of the DACA program, and the subsequent loss of deportation protections for nearly 800,000 Dreamers across the nation, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California) recently introduced H. Res. 774 in attempt to get four immigration reform bills to the House floor for consideration. The resolution now has 245 cosponsors — 49 Republicans and 196 Democrats.
What is the Queen of the Hill?
With 40-plus Republican co-sponsors of the Denham resolution and more joining daily, and 100 percent Democrat support expected, there may be reason for optimism.
If the rule is successfully passed, and Speaker Paul Ryan agrees to a vote, then the Queen of the Hill rule is triggered, allowing bill sponsors to amend language prior to debate, and the bill that gets the most votes wins. However, Ryan and Republican leadership have resisted, refusing to allow the resolution to get a vote.
Thankfully, a few Republican members of congress have courageously stepped up to put forth a discharge petition, requiring a simple majority of 218 or more votes, to eventually trigger Queen of the Hill. The discharge petition has gained considerable traction in recent weeks, and its prospects are strong, indicating that we may soon see a vote on immigration proposals in the House.
In a nutshell, here are the four bills that could trigger Queen of the Hill: Four Bills, in a Nutshell, in the Queen of the Hill?
• Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760): Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (Virginia).
• The DREAM Act (H.R. 3440): Reps. Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-California).
• To be Determined: Ryan and House Leadership.
• Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act (H.R. 4796) or something similar: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California), Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-California).
Doing anything positive on immigration reform is difficult. What is clear is that the majority of members want to debate and vote on immigration. The Queen of the Hill rule allows a fair chance for the House to consider four separate bills, including the DREAM Act and the USA Act, which would provide an earned pathway to legal status for Dreamers, as well as improve border security.
Congress, do your job: quit delaying and just vote. There have been hundreds of votes since September in the House of Representatives. None of those votes were focused on protecting Dreamers. We encourage Congress to take one afternoon to vote on meaningful legislation to protect Dreamers.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com