This Republican posse is riding to the rescue of the “Dreamers,” children brought into the country years ago by parents who entered illegally. Without action by Congress, Dreamers could face deportation back to countries they hardly know by the Trump administration, which terminated the DACA program that protected Dreamers.
These GOP legislators, who are directly challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan, come from a range of states, blue, red and purple, in all regions of the country. However, they share one thing in common. They rank high, often very high, in the Lugar Center’s Bipartisan Index (BPI).
Two are among the four most bipartisan members of the entire House. Half of the GOP signers rank in the top 10 percent of BPI scores. All members but one place in the top half of rankings. (See the full list below. It includes one Democrat, Diana DeGette of Colorado, who also scores well on bipartisanship.)
The BPI, developed in connection with Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy, scores Senators and Representatives on how often they introduce bills that are co-sponsored by members of the other party, and how often they co-sponsor legislation from across the aisle.
The BPI does not select which legislation to score. It covers every substantial bill—excluding post office namings, commemorative resolutions, and the like—introduced each year. (See here for more details on the index and the full results.)
Although the BPI measures bipartisanship across the full range of issues before Congress, it is not surprising that this welcome example of bipartisanship in action comes on an immigration matter. Immigration may be the poster child for partisan dysfunction in Washington.
Our immigration policy has long been a shambles, and acknowledged as such for at least a decade by leaders on both sides of the aisle. The issue is complex, with many competing interests and viewpoints—in other words, one that should be amenable to traditional bipartisan compromise.
Yet a 2007 legislative attempt to fix it failed. The Senate tried again in 2013. Following tortuous negotiations and difficult compromises, Senators passed a comprehensive bipartisan bill 68-32, with 14 Republican votes. The reform contained many elements that each side wanted, including tighter border controls, stronger enforcement, new visa systems and a pathway to legal status and citizenship for most law-abiding undocumented immigrants who resided in the U.S. before 2012.
The bill, while not perfect, addressed all the key issues. It would likely have passed the House with GOP support. But then-Speaker John Boehner, fearing a revolt by partisans on his right, prevented a vote. The system remained as broken as ever, and the partisans forced Boehner out a year later anyway.
It is not yet clear if the Bipartisan Index stalwarts will gather enough other GOP signers for the discharge petition to force a vote. (To get the required majority of 218, they need 25 Republicans, assuming that all of the 193 Democrats will sign.)
By rights, they should get their vote. A February CNN poll showed eight in 10 Americans favored keeping DACA, with a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents all backing the measure. Majorities of both parties in Congress have also championed Dreamers. (Although Trump last year cancelled DACA, an Obama executive order, the courts have ordered it to continue.)
They may not reach their goal if they have to rely on the dwindling number of GOP moderates. But bipartisanship does not mean centrism, or require a member to come from a purple district. An analysis by The Lugar Center’s Jamie Spitz of the 114th Congress found that more than 70 Democratic and Republican Representatives from either “strongly Democratic” or “strongly Republican” districts respectively (as scored by the Cook Political Report) had positive bipartisan scores on the index. This shows that there are members with strong partisan interests who are still willing to reach across the aisle to get things done.
The current signers already include such reliable conservative Republicans as Mark Amodei of Nevada, Mia Love of Utah and Mike Coffman of Colorado. The petition was launched by GOP Reps. Will Hurd of Texas, Jeff Denham of California and Carlos Curbelo of Florida. If they are looking for more GOP members to join their ranks, the upper portion of the Bipartisan Index might be a good place to start.
Signers of the petition by BPI ranking for 2017
2 — Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida
4 — Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida
7 — John Katko, R-New York
9 — Ryan Costello, R-Pennsylvania
12 — Mike Coffman, R-Colorado
13 — Leonard Lance, R-New Jersey
18 — John Faso, R-New York
20 — David Reichert, R-Washington
22 — Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania
27 — Elise Stefanik, R-New York
49 — Will Hurd, R-Texas
59 — Jeff Denham, R-California
73 — Stephen Knight, R-California
81 — David Valadao, R-California
113 — Diana DeGette, D-Colorado
115 — Mia Love, R-Utah
151 — Chris Collins, R-New York
158 — Dave Trott, R-Michigan
162 — Fred Upton, R-Michigan
199 — Mark Amodei, R-Nevada
225 — Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida