Carlos Curbelo

Opinion: Why a DACA Fix Next Year Would Come Too Late
It takes months for the government to ramp up a new program

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, right, here with Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, broke with his party this fall when he announced he wouldn’t support any bill funding the government beyond Dec. 31 until the DACA issue is resolved. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Congress speeds toward its year-end pileup of “must pass” legislation, a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, remains in the balance. President Donald Trump insists it should not be tied to the annual appropriations scramble. But many Democrats — and a few Republicans — are calling for the issue to be addressed this year, with some threatening to withhold their votes to fund the government if legislation for so-called Dreamers is not attached.

Beyond the political posturing and jockeying for leverage, there is a pragmatic reason why any fix, if that is what both parties really want, should happen this year: it takes months for the government to ramp up a new program.

A Gun Rights Vote Only the GOP Base Can Appreciate
Expansion of concealed carry permission will die in the Senate, but the NRA really wanted the vote

Majority Whip John Cornyn has some doubts that he can get a bill passed that would improve background checks for gun purchasers but doesn’t make it easier for gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines. A House bill passed Wednesday would do both. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One government shutdown may be narrowly averted, but another looms right around the corner. The stain of sexual misconduct at the Capitol continues to spread, and an alleged child predator is days away from possibly joining the Senate. Middle East destabilization seems assured as Congress gets its wish to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Public support dwindles daily for a loophole-encrusted, deficit-busting tax package that would be the year’s biggest legislative achievement. The push for presidential impeachment has gone far enough to necessitate procedural pushback in the House.

A week such as this one — already chockablock with headlines touching the Hill — seemed to the Republicans who run the place like an ideal time for making a bold hiding-in-plain-sight move.

As Tax Overhaul Looms, Senate Has Upper Hand
House GOP wary of Senate’s leverage given the narrow vote margin there

The Senate’s narrow margin on the tax overhaul provides it with some leverage in conference negotiations with the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s passage of a tax overhaul illustrated a fragile coalition of support that ironically provides the chamber with the upper hand headed into conference committee negotiations with the House.

House Republicans wanted a conference process on the two chambers’ differing tax bills to prevent the House from getting jammed by the Senate, as they acknowledge has happened frequently on major bills.

12 House Republicans Sign Letter Opposing Arctic Drilling
The proposal, not included in the House-passed tax bill, remains in the Senate version on floor

Reindeer wander off at the end of the Senate Democrats’ news conference and rally opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at the Capitol on Thursday. A number of activists dressed up as polar bears and reindeer for the event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A dozen House Republicans, half of whom voted for the House tax overhaul bill that passed Nov. 13, wrote a letter to GOP leaders urging them not to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, adding another complication to negotiating a tax bill that can pass both chambers.

The Senate tax overhaul bill is tied in a reconciliation measure with legislation that would open up drilling parts of the ANWR. Its inclusion is seen as key to having secured GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s support for the measure.

DCCC Launches Digital Ads Over GOP Tax Vote
Seven Republicans who voted against the tax plan are also targeted

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock speaks with reporters as she leaves the Capitol after voting for the GOP’s tax plan Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Seizing on the House’s passage of the Republican tax plan Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching digital ads in more than 40 GOP-held districts, including against Republicans who voted against the plan.

The ads, provided first to Roll Call, will run on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The committee is also rolling out a website, TaxCutsandJobsAct.com, that allows voters to submit their own video testimonials about the tax plan. The site will be promoted in Google search ads.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Rejects Carlos Curbelo’s Membership Bid
Florida Republican calls decision “shameful”

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s bid to join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus was denied. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Thursday rejected Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s request to join the group.

Curbelo had requested membership, saying he had hoped to work with the caucus on a legislative replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, but his refusal to endorse the version of the so-called DREAM Act supported by the caucus frustrated members.

Bipartisan Group Looks to Split Difference on DACA Fix
Moderate Republicans, Democrats look for a way forward on immigration measure

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., co-chairman of the Problem Solver Caucus, says there is more work to do on a compromise immigration bill, but he is optimistic it can get done. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan bill that would bridge differences between two largely partisan measures to provide young undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship and beef up border security could soon be forthcoming.

The Problem Solvers Caucus is working on legislation that would provide a compromise between the mostly Democratic-sponsored Dream Act and the GOP-led Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, as well as a bipartisan border security proposal.

Summer of Storms Tests Energy Resilience
Lawmakers, administration battle over what it means to rebuild

A downed electric pole sits in mud in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 9, more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

While the Trump administration proposes to make the nation’s electric grid more “resilient” by propping up nuclear and coal-fired power plants, a wide range of energy advocates say there are better — and greener — ways to achieve the same goal.

And they are urging leaders to heed the lessons provided by the massive storms that took down electricity lines in parts of Texas and Florida and left U.S. island territories in the Caribbean in the dark for weeks.

Delays, Caps and Chains, Tax Bill Gimmicks Explained
How congressional tax writers fit square tax pegs into round budget holes

The House Ways and Means Committee began consideration of the tax package on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Tax cuts are not cheap, so when closing so-called loopholes left House Republican tax writers short of their budget target, they dipped into their grab bag of budget and timing tricks.

“Once you set that cap in reconciliation instructions, it has to fit,” Ways and Means member Carlos Curbelo of Florida said. “So the entire bill is designed to meet the instructions that both chambers passed.”

GOP Tax Bill: The Fine-Tuning and Defense Begins
House Republicans hope to vote on measure by Thanksgiving

From left, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan and South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem at a news conference in the Longworth Building on Thursday to unveil the House GOP tax bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Republican tax bill will undergo lots of tweaking, but the generally positive response so far indicates that leadership’s plan to vote on the overhaul by Thanksgiving is still within reach.

The stakes are high for Republicans as they search for a major legislative achievement ahead of the 2018 elections. Members agree a win is needed under President Donald Trump’s leadership after the effort to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law collapsed in the Senate.