GOP leaders seek to stamp out Republican revolt on immigration

GOP leaders seek to stamp out Republican revolt on immigration
© Greg Nash

House GOP leaders are moving quickly to try to snuff out an effort by members of their own conference to force a vote on immigration, arguing using a discharge petition is the wrong path to take.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDon't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Barr has considered resigning over Trump tweets about DOJ: reports Overnight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative MORE (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseBottom line Pelosi's staff huddles with aides in both parties on 'surprise' medical billing Republicans sense momentum after impeachment win MORE (R-La.) pushed back on the effort Wednesday after the discharge petition quickly gained the support of 15 Republicans.

If every Democrat backs the petition to force votes on a series of immigration measures — including one that would protect "Dreamers," immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children — only 25 Republicans would be needed as signatories to force a vote.

McCarthy argued the move gives the minority too much power by effectively allowing a majority of Democrats to determine what gets to the floor by working with a select number of Republicans.

He said he thinks GOP lawmakers should continue working to find a legislative solution for Dreamers that the president will support.

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"I'm not a believer in discharge petitions because you're turning the floor over to Democrats," he told The Hill. "I hope the discharge petition doesn't get the signatures and we continue to work the legislative process to solve this problem."

Scalise has told lawmakers the petition is “not the way to legislate." According to an aide, he “is actively meting and talking with members who haven’t signed on yet to encourage them not to do so.”

"I've talked to some members about the importance of keeping control of the legislative vehicle and solving the problem on our terms where we focus on solutions, not politics," Scalise told reporters.

Scalise sources confirmed the Lousiana Republican is still actively whipping the bill introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulGun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars MORE (R-Texas). 

Many of the Republicans who are backing the discharge petition, including Reps. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloRepublicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP MORE (Fla.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdGun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 Trump to attend California fundraiser with Oracle chairman The Hill's Morning Report - Nearing witness vote, GOP rushes to acquit Trump MORE (Texas) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamLobbying world Bottom line Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR MORE (Calif.), are vulnerable in this year's midterm elections.

GOP lawmakers have been pressing their leadership to back a "Queen of the Hill" rule, which would lead to a series of votes on four different measures. The bill with the most votes over 218 would be sent to the Senate under the maneuver.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Paul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party MORE (R-Wis.) has opposed bringing to a vote a measure that does not have majority support from the GOP conference.

House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify House to vote Thursday on removing ERA ratification deadline Anti-abortion group backs Loeffler's election campaign after opposing her Senate appointment MORE (R-Ga.) said he understands members' frustrations with the length of time it is taking for the lower chamber to take action on immigration, but emphasized that he considers the petition the wrong approach.

"I think immigration needs to be done, it's something that I've supported and we're working through. But sometimes it just takes a lot of hard work and hard effort — the president is going to have to be involved in that, it's something the Senate is going to have to be involved in," he told The Hill. "I think we can get there, it may not be what everybody wants. But simply doing a discharge position, while I understand the sentiment, I think it's the wrong way to go."

Scalise said he remains supportive of a conservative-backed immigration bill introduced by Goodlatte and McCaul.

"We have a regular process that we've been working through and Goodlatte-McCaul, I still think, is the right answer to the problem — I'm a cosponsor of the bill — but there's still work being done," he said.

"I know there are some people that might want a different approach [to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program], and that's really where our conference has been the most divided," he said. "The good news is on Goodlatte-McCaul, the McCaul portions of the bill, we pretty much have a widespread agreement on how to secure our border."

Updated on May 14.