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GOP lawmaker says he has enough support to force immigration votes

GOP lawmaker says he has enough support to force immigration votes
© Greg Nash

A Republican congressman said Tuesday he’s rounded up enough GOP co-sponsors to force multiple immigration votes on the House floor.

Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamBusiness groups breathe sigh of relief over prospect of divided government Ex-RNC, Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy charged in covert lobbying scheme Bottom line MORE (R-Calif.) told The Hill that he has secured support from more than 40 House Republicans on a resolution that would allow debate and votes on four separate immigration proposals.

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The four bills that would be considered are the conservative bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteBottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself MORE (R-Va.); a Democratic measure that would be the Dream Act; a bill offered by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform National Review criticizes 'Cruz Eleven': Barbara Boxer shouldn't be conservative role model MORE (R-Wis.) that would mirror President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-Trump lawyer Cohen to pen forward for impeachment book Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again Man known as 'QAnon Shaman' asks Trump for pardon after storming Capitol MORE’s immigration plan; and the bipartisan USA Act, a narrow bill limited to border security measures and protecting so-called Dreamers.

“It’s time for us to have a full debate in front of the American public,” Denham told The Hill.

Denham's resolution would initiate the “Queen of the Hill” rule, under which the bill that receives the most votes and surpasses the 218-vote threshold would be adopted by the House. If all bills fail to reach 218, they all would be rejected.

With 41 Republican votes and all Democrats in support, the rule could be forced through without going through committee or gaining approval from leadership.

At least 218 votes — a simple majority of the 435 members of the House — are needed to force a vote without consent from the House leadership, what's known as a discharge petition. All 192 Democrats are expected to support the effort, but Denham said his Democratic ally, Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarAOC v. Pelosi: Round 12? Maloney to lead Democrats' campaign arm House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress MORE (Calif.), is still rounding up co-sponsors on his side of the aisle.

Denham’s announcement came on the same day Ryan and his leadership team held an in-depth discussion behind closed doors about the immigration issue, GOP leaders told The Hill.

Leaders said they were trying to make “tweaks” to the Goodlatte bill to make it more palatable to a broader array of the GOP conference. The legislation currently doesn’t have the votes to pass the House.

GOP sources said the leadership discussion was spurred by Trump’s tweets and other public comments demanding Congress fund his border wall. Trump canceled the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and called on Congress to find a legislative replacement.

But because of a court injunction, DACA recipients still have their benefits. Other Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors, are still subject to deportation.

“We continue to work toward a viable solution that addresses both DACA and securing our border,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.

The Goodlatte bill would tighten border security and interior enforcement, and it would grant renewable three-year permits to DACA recipients, but wouldn't give them a special pathway to citizenship.

The Dream Act, co-sponsored by Reps. Lucille Roybal Allard (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenBottom line Democrats elect Meeks as first Black Foreign Affairs chairman House Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members MORE (R-Fla.), would grant an automatic special path to citizenship to more than 3 million Dreamers.

The USA Act, co-sponsored by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse poised to override Trump veto for first time Lawmakers call for including creation of Latino, women's history museums in year-end spending deal House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit MORE (R-Texas) and Peter Aguilar (D-Calif.), would combine elements of the Dream Act with border security provisions, but not interior enforcement.

“If it's a viable solution and it doesn't cross our red lines, then we'd be willing to get on board with it. And this qualifies,” said a House Democratic aide who’s familiar with the issue.

Melanie Zanona contributed.

This post was corrected at 11:33 p.m. to clarify that Denham's resolution is not itself a discharge petition, but a rule that would initiate "Queen of the Hill" proceedings.