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 McCarthyLiz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party Press: Inmates have taken over the asylum 58 percent say Jan. 6 House committee is biased: poll MORE (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseRepublican who went maskless now says coronavirus 'wants to kill us' Republican governors revolt against CDC mask guidance House to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance 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 GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulGOP report on COVID-19 origins homes in on lab leak theory Afghan evacuees to be housed at Virginia base Passport backlog threatens to upend travel plans for millions of Americans MORE (R-Texas). 

Many of the Republicans who are backing the discharge petition, including Reps. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDirect air capture is a crucial bipartisan climate policy Biden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (Fla.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel MORE (Texas) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamBottom line Bottom line Business groups breathe sigh of relief over prospect of divided government 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 RyanTo cut poverty and solve the labor shortage, enhance the Earned Income Tax Credit Wisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump 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 CollinsLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor 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.