Immigration petition hits 204 as new Republican signs on
© Greg Nash

Another House Republican has signed on to the discharge petition that would force a series of votes on immigration that GOP leaders are seeking to avoid, bringing the number of signatories to 204.

Rep. Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenFighting back against the opioid crisis GOP super PAC targets House districts with new M ad buys House immigration fight could boost vulnerable Republicans MORE's (R-Minn.) signature means the petitioners need just 14 more signers to force a series of votes on immigration legislation that would offer shelter to "Dreamers," immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.

Paulsen, a top Democratic target in the midterm elections who represents a district Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThere are many unanswered questions about FBI culture FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts offers to testify on Capitol Hill Giuliani wants 'full and complete' investigation into Russia probe's origins MORE won in 2016, is the 21st Republican to sign the petition.

Twenty-five GOP signatures are needed if every Democrat in the House backs the petition, meaning the petitioners may just need another four signatures to reach their goal.

GOP leaders have pressed lawmakers not to sign the discharge petition, which would allow a minority of Republicans working with Democrats to control the floor.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHillicon Valley: Trump hits China with massive tech tariffs | Facebook meets with GOP leaders over bias allegations | Judge sends Manafort to jail ahead of trial | AT&T completes Time Warner purchase McCarthy: 'The Mueller investigation has got to stop' McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' MORE (R-Calif.) has warned members of his conference it could have negative implications during the midterm election cycle.

Top Republicans have recently floated an alternative plan to hold a series of immigration votes on bills picked by House GOP leadership the week of June 17, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Under the Queen of the Hill rule, the conservative-backed bill by Reps. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteWhite House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts offers to testify on Capitol Hill Gowdy: House will use 'full arsenal' of constitutional weapons to get DOJ, FBI compliance on subpoenas MORE (R-Va.) and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report Trump immigration comments spark chaos in GOP Hillicon Valley: 'Stingray' spying fears spark calls for action | AI debate flares at Google | Experts warn Russian malware more widespread | Lawmakers want Facebook to be more transparent MORE (R-Texas), the bipartisan USA Act, the Dream Act and a bill of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWhite House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies John Legend slams Paul Ryan for Father's Day tweet, demands end to family separation Trump faces Father’s Day pleas to end separations of migrant families MORE’s (R-Wis.) choosing would come to the floor. The measure that receives the most votes over the 218 threshold would then be sent to the Senate.

House GOP leadership has promised members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus a vote on the Goodlatte-McCaul legislation in June. Members of the caucus are hoping a stand-alone vote on the White House-backed measure would kill the discharge petition.

Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamGOP immigration compromise faces more hurdles in House Immigration compromise underlines right’s clout GOP centrists face decision day on Dreamer petition MORE (R-Calif.), a leader on the discharge petiiton, wants a single rule to set up all the bills so that the Freedom Caucus can’t tank the rule for the moderate-backed bill spearheaded by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdWhite House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies Dem lawmakers make surprise visit to ICE detention center Bannon on migrant family separation: Zero tolerance doesn't have to be justified MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarImmigration compromise underlines right’s clout Pelosi, Dems hammer GOP for ‘derailing’ DACA debate Hoyer warns GOP: Don’t dabble with DACA compromise bill MORE (D-Calif.).

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsKey conservative presses for shield law after seizure of NYT reporter’s records The Memo: Trump's legal troubles pile up despite release of IG report Wray defends FBI after 'sobering' watchdog report MORE (R-N.C.) called on leadership to do everything in their power to stop the discharge petition from moving forward, adding he believes bringing up the Goodlatte bill is the easiest way to derail moderates' efforts.

"When I voted against a rule, they threatened to take away all travel, they threatened to take away any NRCC contributions," he told reporters Monday evening, referring to the House Republicans' campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Most of those people that were on the discharge petition are much closer to leadership than members of the Freedom Caucus — so I don't see them voting against the rule."

Meadows said he wouldn't be supportive of bringing up a rule that also includes the legislation being worked on by Denham, arguing he doesn't know what the final product will look like.

"I think it's two separate votes. I mean, the truth of the matter is ... we'll vote on the Goodlatte bill as it was promised some seven months ago," he said. "Let's vote on that, and then if we know the parameters of the other bill with Mr. Denham or anybody else, I don't envision any bloc of votes voting against the rule from our side."

The North Carolina lawmaker said Republicans need to prove to the American people Goodlatte doesn't have the 218 votes needed to send his legislation to the upper chamber before looking at alternatives.

"I guess the question is if that's the only bus leaving the station, how many people actually vote for the Goodlatte bill?" he asked. "And I can tell you there are discussions going on right now on how you modify the Goodlatte bill to get to 218."

Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.