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Group of House Republicans defy leadership in bid to force immigration, DACA votes

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WASHINGTON — A group of House Republicans are pushing ahead in an effort to force floor votes on a pack of four different immigration proposals, despite objections by GOP congressional leaders.

“We believe this institution needs to act, immigration has paralyzed this institution for too long,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla, said at a press conference Wednesday. “We don’t view this in any way of undermining house leaders but on the contrary, we feel we are also empowering them to deal with a very controversial issue.”

If all Democrats back the effort, Republicans need at least 25 of their 236 members to sign onto a discharge petition filed Wednesday, which can be used to force votes on the House floor.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 17 Republicans had already signed onto the petition. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., retiring Saturday, is among the Republicans who joined the petition, but his signature will still count beyond that date. House rules for the current Congress say that “the death or resignation of a member who has signed a motion does not invalidate the signature but it may be withdrawn by the member’s successor.”

“There is no secret that we have come close a couple of times, and then, whether it was Democratic leadership or the Republican leadership, they have not allowed a vote on the floor,” Rep Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said. “This bold move will force a vote — force a vote on the floor. This is an issue that will not fix itself, this is an issue that requires a legislative solution, and that is why I am so grateful for bringing this forward.”

The petition, filed Wednesday by Reps. Curbelo, Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and Will Hurd, R-Texas, would force a vote on bipartisan legislation unveiled in March that would allow for consideration of four different proposals, including a conservative immigration bill proposed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., a bipartisan version of the Dream Act and a bipartisan bill to protect people covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while enhancing border security. It would also allow Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis, the ability to offer an immigration bill of his choosing.

The three Republicans represent districts considered toss-up races in November’s midterm elections and areas that have large Hispanic populations. Hurd represents the largest district along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. Many of the Republicans who have signed onto the petition are among the more moderate members of the House Republican Conference.

GOP leaders, however, did not appear eager to support the effort.

“I don’t believe in discharge petitions,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters leaving the House floor Wednesday, “Why not? Because you are turning the floor over. I think it is better to use the legislative process.”

“We continue to work with our members to find a solution that can both pass the House and get the president’s signature,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for the Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told NBC News.

Curbelo said Wednesday he had spoken to Ryan several times about this member-led effort to bring immigration to the floor and Ryan reiterated a discharge petition was not his preference.

“I explained to him why I thought this was not only good for the House as an institution but for him as speaker,” Curbelo said he told the speaker, adding that this measure could help create a greater sense of urgency.

Denham said he had spoken to the White House on a few occasions about his group’s efforts.

“I have certainly spent some time explaining to them about the process — doing a rule or a discharge is pretty unique — but also I definitely want to understand the administration’s safety concerns along the border as well as concerns for DREAMers,” he said.

If the petition receives enough support, the earliest a vote could be held would be June, since discharge petitions can only be considered on the House floor on the second and fourth Mondays of the month when the House is in session.

The push comes several months after the Senate failed to pass an immigration overhaul in February. The Trump administration announced last September that it would end DACA and tasked Congress with developing a legislation solution instead by March 5. Former President Obama created DACA in 2012 to defer deportation for people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Trump, meanwhile, introduced the White House immigration framework in January, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million for DACA recipients, fund the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall with a $25 billion “trust fund” and end the government’s visa lottery program.

Even if a vote occurs in the House, it could be difficult to get a measure through the Senate where an immigration bill would face a 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster and advance to a final vote.

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Joe Biden to see Brexit Britain as 'unique opportunity' to lead on world stage, says Javid

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BRITAIN is hoping that the arrival in the White House of Joe Biden will usher in a more predictable era in the US-UK “special relationship” after the turbulent presidency of Donald Trump.

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Elation and speculation, after Trump’s last minute protected status for Venezuelans

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Former President Donald Trump’s move to extend protected status to Venezuelans hours before leaving office has generated praise and speculation over the timing of the move.

Venezuelan exiles have been among Trump’s most loyal supporters and are elated over the last-minute move. For years, Republican and Democratic members of Congress lobbied for protected status. Moving to the Deferred Enforced Departure program for Venezuelans stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s hardline immigration policies.

The executive order defers for 18 months the removal of Venezuelans who were at risk of being sent back to their home country. Trump cited the “deteriorative condition” in Venezuela that constitutes a national security threat as the reason for his decision.

There is “euphoria” among Venezuelans and “some confusion” over who it benefits and for how long, said José Oropeza, of the Venezuelan-American Republican Alliance. He called the move “an important first step” for the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have applied for asylum, some of whom are in detention centers.

Trump also issued sweeping financial sanctions Tuesday targeting three individuals, 14 business entities and six ships accused of assisting the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, of evading earlier sanctions that attempted to keep Maduro from profiting from crude sales.

Courting Venezuelan voters in Florida, President Joe Biden had said during his 2020 campaign he would offer Temporary Protected Status, which is nearly identical to the Deferred Enforced Departure program, if he became president.

Speculation over timing

There has been speculation over the timing of the executive order and the possibility of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, running for a U.S. Senate in Florida. The former senior White House advisor is set to relocate to Florida where she and her husband, Jared Kushner—also a former senior adviser—have leased a condominium in a luxury building in South Florida. They also spent $32 million on a waterfront lot on the exclusive Indian Creek Island a few miles away from the condominium.

There were over 400,000 Venezuelans in the United States in 2017, a number that is higher now because of the steady influx of exiles. The largest concentration of Venezuelans is in Florida, where many Trump supporters remain steadfast.

Biden’s choice to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, showed continued support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Blinken said he would continue recognizing Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president and suggested he has no illusions of an eventual dialogue with Maduro, who he called a “brutal dictator.”

Blinken also expressed frustration with the results of previous policy toward Venezuela. “We need an effective policy that can restore Venezuela to democracy starting with free and fair elections,” Blinken said.

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Speak FRENCH! MEP erupts and demands English language cut from bloc – ‘NOT acceptable!’

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ENGLISH is no longer “acceptable” and must be expunged from the EU’s vocabulary in favour of French, an MEP has insisted in an extraordinary rant.

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