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 PaulsenHopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal Fight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch Blue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try 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 ClintonGeorge Takei: US has hit a new low under Trump Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' 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 McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week EU official in Canada says he feels 'at home' there because no one was shouting 'send him back' 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 GoodlatteImmigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute MORE (R-Va.) and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border House votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale House panel advances bill to protect elections from foreign interference MORE (R-Texas), the bipartisan USA Act, the Dream Act and a bill of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEx-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Ocasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud 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 DenhamEx-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm Crazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine 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 HurdAl Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric Trump primary challenger Bill Weld responds to rally chants: 'We are in a fight for the soul of the GOP' Democratic strategist on Trump tweets: 'He's feeding this fear and hate' MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDemocratic leaders seek balance amid liberal push to go big on immigration Katherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck MORE (D-Calif.).

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLawmakers request documents on DC councilman ethics investigation House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran 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.