The House of Representatives is scheduled to leave town for Christmas break at the end of the week. And they won’t return until next year. Barring a miracle, the Republican-controlled chamber will leave without taking a floor vote on an immigration-reform bill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday she spoke to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) about when a vote would occur.
“He told me, yes we have to wait until next year,” she told reporters.
With the effort stalled in Congress, activists have become more desperate in their tactics to convince House Republicans to abandon their opposition to a package of reforms that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Some demonstrators delivered turkey and merlot to Boehner before Thanksgiving. Two child advocates confronted him during a private breakfast last month. On another occasion, activists sung at the offices of Republican leaders.
And a group has held a month-long fast on the National Mall, just blocks from the Capitol. Organizers say the act of fasting is meant to highlight the plight of migrants who die crossing the border and families separated by deportation. The original group of fasters went without food for 22 days straight.
The fast attracted national attention; President Obama, Vice President Biden, and dozens of lawmakers have visited “Fast for Families” tents on the Mall.
Sponsors of the fast say participants will continue to go forego food, demonstrate around the country and pressure the House to act. But their tents are expected to come down this Thursday, removing the most visible symbol to lawmakers of their cause.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D), who visited the fasters on Wednesday, said that their efforts wouldn’t be for naught, despite the fact immigration could be an even tougher lift in Congress during an election year.
“It forces the country to look at the issue,” he said in an interview with Fusion. “To see the faces of the issue. To see the diversity of people it’s affecting. It’s affecting the national conversation, so I know it’s not in vain. There’s a tremendous amount of courage being evidenced here.”
Boehner has said repeatedly that the immigration issue is not dead, even though the House has yet to act. House Republicans want to pass a series of smaller immigration bills, rather than one big proposal like the one passed by the Senate in June.
“I have been committed to it, I am still committed to it,” he told reporters last week. “We are going to try to do this in a commonsense, step‑by‑step approach.”
The fasters and their allies have said that the demonstrations are meant to create a sense of urgency around the immigration issue. But House Republicans continue to slow-walk the issue.
That’s OK. They still have 21 days to come up with their next New Year’s resolutions.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.