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House GOP backs off plan to call Democrats' bluff on abolishing ICE

House Republicans, led by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) changed course on a plan to force a vote on a Democrat-authored bill to abolish ICE. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Republicans were set to force Democrats to go on record on abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement by forcing a vote on a bill that seeks to eliminate the agency, but GOP leaders changed their minds just days before the vote was scheduled to take place, The Hill reported.

The subject of abolishing ICE has become more and more of a Democratic litmus test in recent weeks, and a vote on the bill would have put pressure on moderate Democrats in swing districts who are trying to remain relatively neutral on the issue.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) didn't specify why they cancelled the vote, but said the party will instead vote on a resolution in support of ICE.

"They never should have brought it up in the first place," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "I don't know what they're doing. They keep changing their minds."

How did we get here?

Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan (Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), and Adriano Espaillat (N.Y) authored a bill that would abolish ICE and form a commission to come up with an alternative.

In the wake of outrage over family separations of illegal immigrants detained at the southern border, some prominent Democrats have called for the elimination of the federal immigration law enforcement agency.

House Republicans announced their intention to bring that bill to a vote to call Democrats' bluff on whether they really stood by that movement, or whether it was just talk.

"The thinking was getting Democrats on record because it's a very divisive issue for them," said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). "It would put my opponent in a difficult position."

In response, the authors of the bill said they would vote against their own bill, fighting back against what they called a "political stunt" by Republicans.

"What I found so interesting is the Democrats introduced a bill to abolish ICE...we give them an opportunity, and they say they don't want to vote for it," McCarthy said last week, according to The Hill.

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