SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, said Wednesday she's part of the group of House members attempting a rare congressional maneuver to force a vote on a series of bills protecting DACA recipients.
Love said she's supporting the effort out of frustration that House leaders weren't allowing bills to go forward aimed at helping the nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children known as "Dreamers."
"I just found it absolutely insulting. Because when you are stopping bills from being debated on the floor, you're not allowing people to have a voice in the House," Love said on KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show."
The congresswoman joined other Republicans Wednesday in backing what's known as a "discharge petition." CNN reported most of the 193 Democrats in the House are expected to support it, meaning at least 25 Republicans would also be needed.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, Love was one of 17 Republicans who had signed on to the discharge petition and the only member of Utah's all-GOP delegation on the list.
Love faces the toughest re-election bid of the state's four U.S. House members this year, against a Democrat, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
McAdams' campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, called Love's move an election-year effort to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients, saying it "rings a bit hollow when her past chances to support them did exactly the opposite."
Roberts said McAdams would sign the discharge petition "but he wouldn't have waited nine months to do it." Online ads for McAdams state that Love and the rest of Congress "have failed to take a single vote" to protect the immigrants.
If the procedure succeeds, it would advance legislation Love has also signed on to and would send four immigration bills to the House floor for debate. The move goes against the GOP House leadership.
Love, who was assigned House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, as her mentor in Congress, said her decision came only "after pleading and pleading and pleading for a vote."
She said she was in Congress to represent the 4th District, not "to just push a button for leadership. I'm not elected by them." Love said she can defend her vote on the issue, but what she "cannot defend is the inability to vote at all."
Love told the Deseret News she has a "lot of respect for leadership. I'm still very close to Paul (Ryan). He understands this and totally gets this. This has nothing to do with him."
She said she "wanted to add a conservative voice to this process."
Three moderate Republicans who are supporters of saving DACA are behind the discharge petition — Reps. Will Hurd of Texas, Jeff Denham of California, and Carlos Curbelo of Florida, according to CNN.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started under the Obama administration was ended by President Donald Trump last year, but it has continued under federal court rulings.
Love said the only bill being pushed is from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. She said Goodlatte's bill, which would reduce legal immigration and strengthen border security, has stalled.
"There are a lot of things in Goodlatte's bill that I like," Love said, but not anything "that creates the ability for someone to work for their citizenship," an issue she said Congress, not the White House, needs to address.8 comments on this story
Her preference is the bill known as the USA Act, a bipartisan bill providing DACA recipients and others brought into the country illegally as children opportunities to earn permanent legal status, including through military service.
The USA Act, which would be among the bills sent to the floor if the discharge petition is successful, also calls for strengthening security along the U.S. border with Mexico.
"We get nothing if we don't vote," Love said. "We get absolutely nothing. No border security. No immigration reform. No fix to DACA. We get nothing. So we have to be able to vote on something."