Pelosi: Discharge petition won't promote Trump's wall

Pelosi: Discharge petition won't promote Trump's wall
© Greg Nash

Seeking to unify Democrats around the immigration debate, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDem 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 Pelosi claims NBC is trying to 'undermine' her potential Speaker bid MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that forcing votes to protect "Dreamers" is no rubber stamp for funding President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE’s U.S.–Mexico border wall.

A pair of Texas Democrats from border districts — Reps. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaProgressives’ wins highlight divide in Democratic Party Live coverage: High drama as hardline immigration bill fails, compromise vote delayed Merkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry MORE and Vicente González — are withholding their support for a Republican procedural gambit, known as a discharge petition, designed to compel votes on four bills rescuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed certain immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children to work and go to school.

The holdouts are concerned that the petition — which would launch a “Queen of the Hill” process pitting the four DACA bills against each other — would lead to the adoption of legislation that would ultimately fund new border wall construction.

Their opposition, if it persists, would force GOP immigration reformers to find more Republicans willing to endorse the petition. That goal is a tall order, since signing on requires bucking the wishes of the party brass.

The bill widely viewed as the most popular of the four — a proposal sponsored by Reps. 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) and 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.) — does not explicitly fund new wall construction. But some Democrats say the $25 billion it includes for border security could ultimately lead to such construction.

“Upon reviewing the legislation, we have determined that while the measure may not overtly direct the construction of new miles of physical wall in furtherance of the President’s proposal, it could easily be interpreted as doing so,” Vela wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter, which he and Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonTSA needs to answer important questions on 'Quiet Skies' program Dems demand Trump admin officials testify on election security Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol MORE (D-Miss.) sent to fellow Democrats in February.

Thompson is the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Pelosi this week is disputing that interpretation, promoting the Hurd-Aguilar bill as a viable bipartisan compromise to protect the Dreamers — without new wall construction. She predicted that virtually every Democrat will endorse the discharge petition, and suggested the holdouts simply need “clarification” of what the Hurd-Aguilar bill would do.

“I think we have 99 percent of our members to be signing on. And we’ll have conversations with the others about what the equities are,” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol.

“I think there is some clarification that is needed about what actually is in the bill. They’re saying it’s a wall, and it’s not a wall.”

Pelosi said she’s confident that, if the Republicans win enough signatures, Democrats would take the petition across the finish line.

“The issue is getting the Republican signatures on the bill,” she said.

The Queen of the Hill resolution, sponsored by Rep. 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.), would force floor votes on four separate DACA bills: the Hurd-Aguilar legislation; the Dream Act, which is favored by liberals; a bill sponsored by Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteGoodlatte's son 'embarrassed' his father's 'grandstanding' got Strzok fired Top GOP lawmaker’s son gives maximum donation to Dem running for his seat Graham: DOJ official was 'unethical' in investigating Trump campaign because his wife worked for Fusion GPS MORE (R-Va.), which is favored by conservatives; and a yet-unspecified proposal to be chosen by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanVulnerable Republicans include several up-and-coming GOP leaders Trump ally suspends reelection campaign Congress should prohibit members from serving on company boards MORE (R-Wis.).

The discharge petition, sponsored by 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.), needs 25 Republican signatures to reach 218, assuming all Democrats eventually sign on. Twenty Republicans have endorsed it so far, but Ryan and other GOP leaders are urging others to refrain from doing so, warning that the strategy empowers the minority Democrats.

Republican leaders huddled Wednesday evening in Ryan’s office with centrist immigration reformers, including Curbelo and Denham, and then with a separate group of hard-line conservatives immediately afterward. The conservatives oppose the discharge petition and are seeking procedural ways to sink it.

Ryan is urging patience, saying he wants to come up with a bipartisan DACA bill that can pass both chambers and win the signature of Trump, who has demanded billions of dollars in new border wall funding.

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerElection analyst predicts 'impeachment hearings will happen' if Dems take Congress Michigan lawmaker wants seat for Midwest at Dem leadership table Dems introduce measure to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act MORE (D-Md.), the minority whip, said this week that Democratic leaders are open to accepting new wall funding as part of a compromise to protect the Dreamers.

Though not a new position — many Democrats had voted for more than $1 billion for new border security as part of the March omnibus package — it drew an outcry from Vela, who has vowed in the past that “under no circumstances will I vote for a bill that provides a penny for border wall funding.”

Pelosi said she hasn’t been in talks with Ryan or other GOP leaders about the specifics of a bipartisan deal to rescue DACA, saying “the beauty” of the current discharge-petition effort is that it’s being championed by rank-and-file Republicans.

“The Speaker should take control — maintain control — of the floor by just bringing the bill up,” she said.

“But that’s their own negotiation over there. I’m not involved in it.”