Cheers Erupt As House Judiciary Committee Approves ‘Path to Citizenship’ Bills

Patrick Goodenough | May 23, 2019 | 4:36am EDT
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House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference on the American Dream and Promise Act, in New York in March. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

( – To whoops of delight, the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday night voted to advance legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who arrived in the U.S. without legal permission as minors (“Dreamers”) and allow some immigrants with temporary protected status to apply for permanent legal status.

Voting along partisan lines after lengthy debate, the committee marked up three bills – the Dream Act (H.R. 2820), the American Promise Act (H.R. 2821) and the Venezuela TPS Act (H.R. 549).

The votes were 19-10, 20-9, and 20-9 respectively for the three bills.

The first two measures were initially part of one bill, the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), unveiled in March by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the bill’s lead sponsor Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.). It was co-sponsored by 232 Democrats.

The Dream Act applies to minor immigrants covered by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, while the American Promise Act applies to immigrants with temporary protected status (TPS) or deferred enforced departure (DED) status.

The third bill would allow Venezuelan nationals to qualify for TPS, which prevents their removal from the U.S. and allows them to obtain employment.

The vote counts were met by cheers, clapping and fist pumps from members and visitors, while committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) banged his gavel, to little effect.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) asked Nadler whether it was committee practice to allow “demonstrations either for or against legislation.”

Nadler replied that he had used the gavel and “maintained control as much as possible.”

Democrat committee members took to social media to celebrate the outcome.

Nadler called it “a historic day for so many” and hailed as “an incredible achievement” the committee’s approval of the American Promise Act, “which establishes a pathway to permanent residence for individuals covered by TPS and DED programs.”

“We did it!!!” tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), calling H.R. 2820 and H.R. 2821 “the most progressive bills ever passed in the House! What a night!”

“More evidence that we can both investigate crimes and pass life changing legislation,” commented Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who is not a member of the committee, tweeted, “This is why electing real people, people like us, makes a difference.”

In 2010, the DREAM Act died in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, where supporters fell five votes short of the 60 needed to advance the House-passed bill. Three Republicans voted in favor and five Democrats opposed the measure.

The Trump administration has been trying to end the DACA program since September 2017, but the courts have blocked the president from using executive action to undo what the Obama administration did through executive action.

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