Key House conservative not ‘optimistic’ about either immigration bill passing

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he is “not optimistic” that either immigration bill that the House is considering on Thursday will pass.

“I’m not optimistic about the two bills that will be on the floor today,” Meadows said Thursday in an interview with Hill.TV’s “Rising.” “I think at this point, the more conservative bill doesn’t get to 218. It’s still up in the air whether the more moderate bill gets to 218.”

“If I were to have to handicap it right now at this particular point this morning,” he added, “I would say no, it’s not.”

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a pair of competing immigration bills: a compromise measure that was negotiated by centrists and conservatives and a more hard-line measure from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

The compromise measure would provide a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, earmark $25 billion for President Trump’s border wall and other security measures, and stop the separation of undocumented families at the border.

But many conservatives are balking at the compromise bill ahead of Thursday’s vote, fearful they’ll be attacked from the right if they back it. Conservative groups, including NumbersUSA and Heritage Action, are deriding the compromise bill as “amnesty” for providing a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million Dreamers.

Meadows was seen in a heated argument with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the House floor on Wednesday. He was furious that the final immigration package left out several provisions that had been agreed to during earlier negotiations.

Conservatives are also upset that leadership is bringing the original version of the Goodlatte bill to the floor instead of a modified version.

Meadows noted on Thursday that some conservatives are reluctant to go out on a limb and support the compromise measure because the legislation would go nowhere in the Senate.

“There’s a lot of us willing to vote for this bill and maybe walk the plank, but it’s going nowhere in the Senate,” Meadows said. “I’m not even sure they’re going to bring it up.”

But Meadows did predict that Congress would act on a stand-alone fix to prevent children from being separated from their parents at the border, even though Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to stop the controversial policy.

“I think ultimately, we’ve got to fix it legislatively,” Meadows said. “But I do believe a more narrow bill will pass the House and Senate.”

— Melanie Zanona

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