If whip effort fails, Ryan won’t outline next steps on immigration

If whip effort fails, Ryan won’t outline next steps on immigration
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters Amazon fleeced New York, Virginia with HQ2 picks MORE (R-Wis.) would not outline leadership's plan for an immigration bill if the conservative measure that is currently being whipped in the House can’t get enough support to pass.

Asked Wednesday if he would bring separate legislation to the floor if a bill crafted by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteComey invites House Republicans to hold public hearing after news of possible subpoena GOP chairman plans to subpoena Comey, Lynch to testify before next Congress Virginia New Members 2019 MORE (R-Va.) lacks support, Ryan said: “We’re not going to do ifs, ands or buts."

“At the end of the day, we want to have a solution," he said at a press briefing. 

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Conservatives say that the only solution is Goodlatte's bill that provides a temporary, renewable legal status — not citizenship — for hundreds of thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

House GOP leaders said they would begin whipping the bill on Wednesday, fulfilling a promise to the House Freedom Caucus to build support for the legislation. But it’s unclear whether it would have enough votes to pass the lower chamber.

The legislation authorizes funding for President TrumpDonald John TrumpMia Love pulls ahead in Utah race as judge dismisses her lawsuit Trump administration denies exploring extradition of Erdoğan foe for Turkey Trump congratulates Kemp, says Abrams will have 'terrific political future' MORE’s border wall, ends family-based migration and scraps the diversity visa lottery program.

It also includes tougher border-enforcement measures than the four pillars outlined by the White House: The bill would crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, boost penalties for deported criminals who try to re-enter the U.S. and requires that employers use an electronic verification system known as E-Verify to make sure they hire legal workers.

The Senate is scrambling this week to come up with a bipartisan solution for the Obama-era DACA program, which protects young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children. But it's far from clear that a resolution will be reached in the Senate.

Trump rescinded DACA and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a permanent legal fix, though court rulings have so far blocked the administration’s move.

“[The deadline is] not as important as it was before, given the court rulings, but I think this place works better with deadlines,” Ryan said. “We clearly need to address this issue in March.”

Complicating the DACA issue is that Ryan has long promised conservatives that he would only put an immigration measure on the House floor if it has a majority of the GOP’s support.

Whatever DACA bill comes out of the Senate, if any, is likely to take a far more narrow approach since it needs to have the support of nine Democrats to overcome a filibuster.  

It’s unlikely such a bill would be able to follow Ryan’s criteria for an immigration bill, though the Speaker emphasized that the House would want to put its own stamp on the DACA debate anyway.

“What we always want to do in the House is have a House Republican position, which we can start from for negotiations,” he said.