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 McCarthyOn The Money: Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens | Trump officials detail new small-business loan program | Outbreak poses threat to mortgage industry Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Trump backs infrastructure bill as next phase of coronavirus relief MORE (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScalisePelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid House GOP whip team seeks to get Republicans behind Senate coronavirus bill 14 things to know today about coronavirus 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 McCaulHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike House Republican urges Pompeo to take steps to limit misinformation from China on coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID 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 HurdGarth Brooks accepts Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song Texas kicks off critical battle for House control Gun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 MORE (Texas) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamLobbying world Harder advances in race to keep California House seat Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm 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 RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy 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 CollinsGeorgia makes it easier to get mail-in ballots after delaying primary Overnight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress 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.