House

Ryan seeks to tamp down GOP rebellion, saying immigration bill needs Trump support

Greg Nash

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sought to put down a revolt from pro-immigration Republicans on Thursday, insisting he wants to bring a bipartisan immigration bill to the House floor before the crucial midterm elections.

But the Speaker reiterated that the immigration legislation would need to get President Trump’s endorsement first — a tall order given the inability of Trump and Democrats to agree on an immigration compromise.

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“I’d like to. I want to have — I want to fix this problem, so I would like to have an immigration vote before the midterms. But I want to have a vote on something that could make it into law. I don’t want to have show ponies,” Ryan told reporters at his weekly news conference.

“I want to have actual law and that means the White House has to be a part of this and it’s got to be a bill the president can sign,” Ryan added.

Ryan dismissed the discharge petition backed by the centrist Republicans, which GOP leaders argue would simply give power to Democrats by allowing the to team up with a minority of Republicans to pass a bill on the House floor.

“We never want to turn the floor over to the minority. What I don’t want to do is have a process that just ends up with a veto,” Ryan said.

“Going down a path and having some sort of spectacle on the floor that just results in a [presidential] veto doesn’t solve the problem. We actually would like to solve this problem,” he added.

Ryan’s comments are unlikely to dissuade the centrists pushing the discharge petition. So far, 18 Republicans have joined the cause, seven shy of the 25 Republican signatories needed to force a vote if all Democrats sign the petition.

The petition would set up a “Queen of the Hill” process in which four different bills would receive votes, with the measure getting the most votes, assuming it attracts more than the 218 needed, being sent to the Senate.

Many lawmakers in both parties believe the bill backed by the centrist lawmakers would prevail under Queen of the Hill, with Democrats supplying most of the votes. The USA Act, a product of a long bipartisan negotiation between Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), would pair a path to citizenship for 1.8 million “Dreamers” — young adults who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — with $25 billion in border security funding.

Hurd is backing the discharge petition, along with Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Jeff Denham (R-Calif.). All three represent heavily Hispanic districts and are under pressure to get something done on immigration.

A GOP bill authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is backed by Trump but has gone nowhere in the House. It has only 95 GOP co-sponsors and no Democratic support.

The Speaker, who will retire at the end of this term, did concede that it’s now clear any immigration bill that comes to the floor this year will have to be bipartisan.

“When I don’t have 218 Republicans, I want to make sure we have a bill the president would actually support,” Ryan said.

“If we’re going to spend time on the floor, let’s spend time that precious time on the floor passing legislation that we know can get signed into law.”

Tags Bob Goodlatte Carlos Curbelo Discharge petition Donald Trump Dreamers Immigration Jeff Denham Michael McCaul Paul Ryan Pete Aguilar Will Hurd
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