GOP leaders seek to stamp out Republican revolt on immigration

GOP leaders seek to stamp out Republican revolt on immigration
© Greg Nash

House GOP leaders are moving quickly to try to snuff out an effort by members of their own conference to force a vote on immigration, arguing using a discharge petition is the wrong path to take.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE Pelosi: 'The Russians have something on the president' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments MORE (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE Overnight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process Koch backs House measure opposing carbon taxes MORE (R-La.) pushed back on the effort Wednesday after the discharge petition quickly gained the support of 15 Republicans.

If every Democrat backs the petition to force votes on a series of immigration measures — including one that would protect "Dreamers," immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children — only 25 Republicans would be needed as signatories to force a vote.

McCarthy argued the move gives the minority too much power by effectively allowing a majority of Democrats to determine what gets to the floor by working with a select number of Republicans.

He said he thinks GOP lawmakers should continue working to find a legislative solution for Dreamers that the president will support.

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"I'm not a believer in discharge petitions because you're turning the floor over to Democrats," he told The Hill. "I hope the discharge petition doesn't get the signatures and we continue to work the legislative process to solve this problem."

Scalise has told lawmakers the petition is “not the way to legislate." According to an aide, he “is actively meting and talking with members who haven’t signed on yet to encourage them not to do so.”

"I've talked to some members about the importance of keeping control of the legislative vehicle and solving the problem on our terms where we focus on solutions, not politics," Scalise told reporters.

Scalise sources confirmed the Lousiana Republican is still actively whipping the bill introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteDems try to end hearing on bias against conservatives in tech Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page gets closed-door grilling from House Republicans 5 takeaways from wild hearing with controversial FBI agent MORE (R-Va.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart A change is coming to US-Mexico relations Hillicon Valley: Justices uphold Trump travel ban | Tech's response | Accused NSA leaker enters guilty plea | Dems press for more info on OPM breach | Senators press Trump to uphold ZTE ban | New hacking threat to satellites MORE (R-Texas). 

Many of the Republicans who are backing the discharge petition, including Reps. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloMueller indictments: Congressional candidate asked Russian operatives for info on opponent Lawmakers discuss efforts to boost Latino entrepreneurship On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump suggests China is easing pressure on North Korea because of trade fight | Mulvaney taps top aide as No. 2 at consumer bureau | House Republican to offer bill to curtail Trump's trade powers MORE (Fla.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDespite clarification, Trump's Russia remarks put intel chiefs in tough spot GOP rep: Putin delivered ‘classic disinformation’ in conference with Trump GOP lawmaker: Trump is 'getting played by' a former KGB agent MORE (Texas) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamKoch group pushes DACA fix on Capitol Hill House GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE House GOP leaders fail to find compromise immigration fix MORE (Calif.), are vulnerable in this year's midterm elections.

GOP lawmakers have been pressing their leadership to back a "Queen of the Hill" rule, which would lead to a series of votes on four different measures. The bill with the most votes over 218 would be sent to the Senate under the maneuver.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Kelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) has opposed bringing to a vote a measure that does not have majority support from the GOP conference.

House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsImmigration overhaul on life support in the House Time to set politics aside to move ahead on criminal justice reform Don’t kick the can down the road on prison reform — now is the time for change MORE (R-Ga.) said he understands members' frustrations with the length of time it is taking for the lower chamber to take action on immigration, but emphasized that he considers the petition the wrong approach.

"I think immigration needs to be done, it's something that I've supported and we're working through. But sometimes it just takes a lot of hard work and hard effort — the president is going to have to be involved in that, it's something the Senate is going to have to be involved in," he told The Hill. "I think we can get there, it may not be what everybody wants. But simply doing a discharge position, while I understand the sentiment, I think it's the wrong way to go."

Scalise said he remains supportive of a conservative-backed immigration bill introduced by Goodlatte and McCaul.

"We have a regular process that we've been working through and Goodlatte-McCaul, I still think, is the right answer to the problem — I'm a cosponsor of the bill — but there's still work being done," he said.

"I know there are some people that might want a different approach [to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program], and that's really where our conference has been the most divided," he said. "The good news is on Goodlatte-McCaul, the McCaul portions of the bill, we pretty much have a widespread agreement on how to secure our border."

Updated on May 14.