Robert Donachie on July 18, 2018

House lawmakers voted for a bill Wednesday that supports Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and explicitly condemns Democrats calls to abolish the agency.

Members voted 244-35-133 Wednesday afternoon in favor of a resolution GOP Rep. Clay Higgins sponsored that both decries Democrats push to do away with ICE and calls for congressional support for the agency and its officials. Republicans brought the bill to the floor under an expedited procedure, known as suspension of the rules, which allowed the chamber to pass it with a 2/3 majority.

The majority of House Democrats–133–voted “present,” with the remainder of split. Eighteen Democrats voted in favor the bill and 35 voted against it.

The vote Wednesday came after a week of back and forth from Republican leadership, who were considering putting forth another bill from Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Democrat Mark Pocan and caucus members Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Adriano Espaillat of New York that would abolish ICE.

Republican leadership’s original thinking in taking up the Democrats’ abolish ICE bill was to force their hands on the floor and get them on record voting against supporting ICE. If Democrats voted for the bill, then Republicans could use that in the November midterm elections, roasting them for being “open borders.”  The other line of thinking was that some Democrats would vote against it, as many hinted they would do last week, and that would both cause a schism in the Democratic conference and make Republicans look weak.

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