Pelosi: GOP discharge-petition holdouts helping Ryan ‘save face’

Pelosi: GOP discharge-petition holdouts helping Ryan ‘save face’
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi seizes on anti-corruption message against GOP Dem mega-donor to spend M on GOTV campaign ahead of midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to New York to shore-up GOP districts MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that some GOP lawmakers are withholding their support for a discharge petition on immigration in order not to embarrass Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat Live results: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut hold primaries MORE (R-Wis.).

Pelosi said she believes Republicans have the 25 GOP lawmakers they essentially need to force a vote on legislation to protect “Dreamers,” people brought to the United States illegally as children.

“They’re close to the number, [and] the prediction is that they will get the number,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

“But in order to save face for the Speaker, [they want to] let him have it his discretion to bring it up.”

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Ryan and GOP leaders are scrambling to quell the revolt over immigration.

Twenty Republicans have so far signed on to the discharge petition to force votes salvaging the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE is fighting to dismantle.  

The petition requires 218 signatures — the House majority — to force floor action, meaning at least five more Republicans would need to sign on to compel votes against the wishes of GOP leaders, assuming all House Democrats back it.

Discharge petitions are almost never successful, since they require members of the majority party to buck their own party brass and force votes on legislation that leaders would prefer to keep off the floor. And Ryan on Wednesday warned his troops against the discharge petition strategy, arguing that it empowers the minority Democrats.

“We do not agree with discharge petitions; we think they are a mistake. They dis-unify our majority,” Ryan said during his own press conference in the Capitol. “Members of our majority fall into different camps, and they want a solution on DACA, and they want a solution on the border and the security issues, so we want to accommodate all of that.”

Several hours later, Reps. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoProtesters confront Ivanka Trump on family separations Progressives’ wins highlight divide in Democratic Party The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Wild night of primaries reshapes 2018 midterms MORE (R-N.Y.) and Dave TrottDavid Alan TrottRecord numbers of women nominated for governor, Congress Key primaries in August will help shape midterms GOP doubles female recruits for congressional races MORE (R-Mich.) defied those warnings and signed the petition.

The issue of immigration has divided the Republicans for years, pitting centrist lawmakers who support protecting certain immigrants without legal status against conservative hard-liners who back a tougher enforcement regime and the mass deportation of millions of people.

Those divisions have been forced front-and-center in a tough election year for the Republicans, when a number of GOP centrists — particularly those from districts with significant Hispanic populations — have grown increasingly concerned that GOP inaction on DACA poses a threat to their reelection. Aside from Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloGOP lawmaker: Every white suburban district in the country will be a swing district this year The Hill's Morning Report — Election Day drama for Trump Trump sides with conservatives on shutdown messaging MORE (R-Fla.), who sponsored the petition, the Republicans leading the DACA charge include Reps. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamPolice chief ‘disgusted’ after his son charged in attack of 71-year-old Sikh man Police make arrests in attack of 71-year-old Sikh man Sikh man attacked, told to go back to country while posting campaign signs supporting GOP lawmaker MORE (R-Calif.), David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoDems make big play for House in California Immigration overhaul on life support in the House The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Calif.) and Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdJuan Williams: What does Putin have on Trump? GOP lawmaker: Trump was ‘manipulated’ by Putin Schiff: Trump is acting like someone who is compromised MORE (R-Texas), all of whom are facing tough reelections in heavily Hispanic districts. 

Seeking a solution, Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyRepublicans have spent .5 million at Trump properties since he took office: report Trump ally suspends reelection campaign Dems seek GOP wipeout in California MORE (R-Calif.) huddled with President Trump at the White House on Tuesday in search of an immigration bill that could thread the needle of divergent ideologies and become law. They have a tough job ahead of them, as the bill will need both the support of Democrats — who could use a Senate filibuster to block it — and the president, who has been all over the board when it comes to what immigration measures he’d sign. 

Pelosi on Wednesday promoted a bipartisan proposal — sponsored by Hurd and Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarHouse panel moves to bar deportation of military 'Dreamers' Immigration compromise underlines right’s clout Pelosi, Dems hammer GOP for ‘derailing’ DACA debate MORE (D-Calif.) — that would combine Dreamer protections with new funding to bolster border security. The bill is one of four proposals that would be forced to the floor if Curbelo’s discharge petition proves successful.

Ryan has opposed bringing Hurd-Aguilar to the floor, saying the move is futile since Trump won’t sign it. But Pelosi rejected that argument on Tuesday, noting that Trump has urged Congress to protect the DACA beneficiaries.

“They don’t know that the president will veto the Hurd-Aguilar bill. I don’t know if the president knows if he would veto the Hurd-Aguilar bill,” Pelosi said. 

“At the time he said he wanted to get something done,” she added. “I don’t know who cancels that out at the White House, but what he says publicly is encouraging, gives us hope, and then somebody puts the nix on it at the White House.”