Political Notebook

Immigration bill coming to House floor this week, McCarthy tells Fresno donors at Ivanka Trump event

An immigration bill will head to the U.S. House of Representatives floor this week, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy apparently told a room full of Fresno Republican campaign donors Monday.

McCarthy was appearing alongside Ivanka Trump as part of his "Protect the House" fundraising tour.

Mike Der Manouel Jr. and Tal Cloud, leaders of the Lincoln Club of Fresno County, were both at the invitation-only Fresno lunch, which started around noon. They shared McCarthy's statements with The Bee shortly after the event ended.

"McCarthy publicly stated that the (congressional) leadership is meeting with the president tomorrow to discuss the bills and see which he favors," Cloud said.

Two immigration bills are in play: one written by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte favored by conservatives, and a "compromise" bill designed to appeal to more moderates.

Cloud said the president will likely favor the compromise, and attributed a July timeline for a vote to McCarthy.

Attempts to reach McCarthy's communications office for confirmation were not successful.

The separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border was not discussed directly, Der Manouel said. "Everyone wants to get this issue dealt with," he added, in reference to the separations. "This is a legacy issue that's been around for 20 years."

Der Manouel's statements echoed those of President Donald Trump, who cast blame over the weekend for the breakup of families at the border on the Democrats' "cruel legislative agenda. " Democratic members of Congress have placed the blame squarely on Trump's administration, with many making highly publicized visits to immigration detention centers over the weekend.

At least 2,000 children are believed to have been separated from their loved ones at the border in the last six weeks.

On Monday, Cloud said about 150 people attended the fundraiser. It was $1,250 per person to RSVP, but donors could also spend $5,000 for an additional photo opportunity with McCarthy at a VIP reception.

Cloud said some of the questions directed toward Ivanka Trump were geared toward her personal life – how does she balance motherhood and her work in the White House, for example – but the first daughter steered most of them back toward the issues at hand.

Ivanka Trump advocated for more career technical education, Cloud said. At one point, McCarthy also praised Trump for her help with various legislative issues, including speaking to Democrats about the tax reform bill.

Der Manouel called the fundraiser "laid back" and "a fireside chat." He identified Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, as the only other elected official he saw apart from McCarthy.

He said the money raised would be used to help Valadao and Turlock Republican Jeff Denham, who are both facing "very competitive" congressional races.

Some cash could also go to Elizabeth Heng, a Republican challenging Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, due to her strong showing in the June 5 primary, Der Manouel said. As of Monday afternoon, Heng had 30,340 votes to Costa's 35,790.

Many attendees leaving the fundraiser carried bright red "Make America Great Again" hats.

McCarthy and Trump's motorcade, consisting of about four SUVs and a California Highway Patrol escort, arrived just before noon. The same convoy left around 2 p.m. A second Protect the House event was scheduled for Monday in Los Angeles.

Around a dozen protesters gathered in a few groups near the fundraiser.

As he stood near the Harris entrance, Jeff Giocalone held signs that read "Trump is Nixon" and "Trump-Nunes: It's Mueller Time," the latter in reference to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, and special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

"When something this ugly comes to Fresno, you've got to stand up," Giocalone said.

Three other protestors stood near Giocalone. A larger protest against Trump's visit will take place at the federal courthouse in downtown Fresno.

Earlier Monday morning, cars lined Home Avenue in anticipation of the event featuring the first daughter and Bakersfield congressman.

Richard and Karen Spencer of Harris Construction, as well as John and Carole Harris of Harris Ranch hosted the Fresno fundraiser.

A hosting committee of local Republicans also helped with the planning. The event's location had been kept a secret.

Fresno Police Department K-9 units checked the perimeter of Harris Construction around 10 a.m and 10:30 a.m.

The department also helped the U.S. Capital Police and Secret Service by monitoring the event remotely.

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