As House Democrats mull a procedural tactic to force a vote on immigration reform legislation, the White House was cagey about whether it supports the maneuver.
After House GOP leaders all but shelved immigration reform this year, the White House sidestepped questions about whether it backs what’s known as a “discharge petition” to force a vote on a House bill that closely mirrors the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration bill.
“The president and this administration have committed to taking a step back and giving House Republicans the opportunity to consider a range of proposals … on immigration reform,” spokesman Josh Earnest said at a daily press briefing. “So, we're going to give House Republicans the opportunity to have some conversations among themselves.”
A discharge petition is a parliamentary tactic used by a member of the House to force a floor vote on a piece of legislation over the opposition of the majority party’s leadership. It must garner a majority of signatures of the full House in order to move forward.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., last week encouraged House Democrats to use such a maneuver. Many House Democrats believe they could find the 18 to 20 GOP votes they’d need to pass the Senate immigration bill if all Democrats also voted for the package. If nothing else, the tactic would increase pressure on Republicans and their speaker, John Boehner, to act on the issue.
But House Democratic leaders are somewhat reluctant to use a discharge petition. Democrats last week announced they would use the tactic on a minimum wage law but declined to specify why they wouldn’t on immigration reform. Critics contend this is because immigration is a wedge issue the party can use effectively in 2014’s midterms – and even moreso in 2016.
First published February 20 2014, 1:18 PM
Luke Russert joined NBC News in August 2008 as a correspondent based in Washington, D.C. Russert currently reports from Capitol Hill on the House of Representatives for â€œNightly News with Brian Williams,â€ â€œTODAY,â€ MSNBC and NBCNews.com.
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Since late 2011 Russert has served as a guest host on various MSNBC programs including: â€œWay Too Earlyâ€ â€œThe Daily Rundown with Chuck Toddâ€ â€œAndrea Mitchell Reportsâ€ â€œNOW with Alex Wagnerâ€ and â€œThe Cycle.â€
From March 2006-2010, Russert co-hosted the sports radio talk show "60/20 Sports" with political pundit James Carville on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio. On "60/20 Sports" he interviewed the likes of former President Clinton, former President George Bush, Bill Russell, Cal Ripken Jr. and Lance Armstrong.
In May of 2009, Russert was honored with the Marlin Fitzwater Award for Leadership in Public Communication from Franklin Pierce University, an award meant to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to public discourse in the spirit of a healthy democracy. Heâ€™s also received an honorary degree from Wingate University in North Carolina.
Russert graduated from Boston College with a double major in history and communications. He is the son of the late Tim Russert and Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth. Russert lives in Washington, D.C., with his pug Chamberlain.