Thirty-four Republicans on Tuesday signed a letter
to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him that Congress should act "immediately" on a "permanent legislative solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients before the end of the year."
On the Senate side, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told reporters Monday that he is working with Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Michael Bennet along with fellow Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to reach a bipartisan deal on DACA, a program that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation, which President Donald Trump is ending.
Flake said he spoke with the President last week about the issue and he was headed to the White House again on Tuesday for a meeting with Gardner and other senators and the President on year-end issues.
"I think his instincts on this are right," Flake said Monday of Trump and past positive statements he's made about preserving DACA legislatively. "He's been pulled different directions by others who have an interest either in getting done or blocking it. So I think he's getting pulled, but I think his instincts on this, I don't say this about every issue, but I think his instincts on DACA are right."
The moderate-led efforts come amid the lack of progress since Trump's September announcement from leadership in reaching a deal and the increasing pressure from Democrats and a flank of the GOP to resolve the issue before Congress recesses for the holidays.
The letter calls for the "urgent matter" to be addressed with a "balanced approach that does not harm valuable sectors of our economy nor the lives of these hard-working young people" -- a message to leadership that more conservative proposals pushed by the right flank of the party won't get their support.
As reported by CNN
, the letter was organized by the nascent Main Street Caucus and announced Tuesday by Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor, Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse and California Rep. Jeff Denham.
While the lawmakers said the letter should not be interpreted by a threat to make life difficult for Ryan or not support government funding bills without a DACA solution, 34 Republicans is more than enough to deny Republicans a majority, sending a signal to leadership about the sentiments of moderates.
"Before we take up the end of the year bills, we want Republican leadership to see how many Republicans are willing to put their names on the line," California Rep. Jeff Denham said in a call with reporters. "We're trying to show the economies of scale of the amount of members we have."
"There should be no implied threat that's perceived in this letter at all, whether we would be holding out a vote," Newhouse said. "This is an issue that is strong on its own merits and the goal of the letter is to demonstrate to the leadership of our conference that the support is there and the urgency of the issue is real and it should be solved before the end of the year."
As for why there are only 34 Republicans on the letter, Taylor said there are "numerous" others who would vote for a deal but couldn't sign the letter publicly for various reasons.
"This is a strong statement, a strong showing of support on people who are willing to publicly put their name out there," Taylor said.