In Moment of Bipartisanship, House Democrats and Republicans Take Action That Leads Nowhere

While House Republicans prepared to vote on a doomed border bill, Democrats took over the floor asking for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen on Capitol Hill August 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. It has been reported that the dome has 1,300 known cracks and breaks leaking water to the interior of the Rotunda and needs restorations. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $61 million before the August recess to repair the structure. On Monday, Committee on Rules and Administration chairman Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to support the repairs. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) (National Journal)

Technically it's recess, so it's no surprise that Republicans and Democrats in the House are playing games.

The House did not leave town on Thursday afternoon as members had planned, sending up screams from schedulers all across the Capitol campus. While most members of the Senate, having failed to pass their own $2.7 billion border bill, were perfectly happy leaving town for a five-week recess, that wasn't good enough for the House.

Instead, members remained in Washington while House Republican leadership huddled to get sufficient votes for a border bill that's going exactly nowhere, even if it does pass the chamber. The bill provides $694 million to deal with the crisis at the southern border — that's $3 billion less than what President Obama asked for.

In a Friday morning meeting, GOP leaders offered members changes to a separate bill dealing with President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that's even more politically doomed in the Senate, and would be more likely to find a lighter in the Oval Office than President Obama's pen.

Both bills are likely to hit the floor later Friday, possibly allowing House members to leave town just a day late.

Given that they're stuck in Washington to vote on legislation that's going nowhere, Democrats pulled together to offer their own rhetorical message. They offered the closest thing they could get to a filibuster, with more than two dozen members, led by Rep. Jim McGovern, lining up and asking for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.

Each Democrat offered some form of this procedural request: "Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to bring H.R. 15, a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, to properly address the humanitarian crisis at the border."

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., sat near the podium looking bored, denying each request. The scene was not unlike a family road trip peppered with an endless chorus of, "Are we there yet?"

You can see the video of roughly the first 10 minutes below:{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5141) }}

Given their position in the minority, Democrats couldn't have done much else.

For their part, House Republicans said they were glad to go home having offered a solution to the problems at the border, regardless of whether it becomes law. "There's always hope the Senate will come to their senses," House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., added. "I would hope the Senate would come back and do their job."

That, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, ain't gonna happen.

The day's events allow members on each side of the aisle to go back to their districts for a five-week season of campaigning, telling constituents, "We tried!" While ultimately, doing nothing to deal with the border crisis.