Pelosi: GOP discharge-petition holdouts helping Ryan ‘save face’

Pelosi: GOP discharge-petition holdouts helping Ryan ‘save face’
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push The Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that some GOP lawmakers are withholding their support for a discharge petition on immigration in order not to embarrass Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.).

Pelosi said she believes Republicans have the 25 GOP lawmakers they essentially need to force a vote on legislation to protect “Dreamers,” people brought to the United States illegally as children.

“They’re close to the number, [and] the prediction is that they will get the number,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

“But in order to save face for the Speaker, [they want to] let him have it his discretion to bring it up.”

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Ryan and GOP leaders are scrambling to quell the revolt over immigration.

Twenty Republicans have so far signed on to the discharge petition to force votes salvaging the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE is fighting to dismantle.  

The petition requires 218 signatures — the House majority — to force floor action, meaning at least five more Republicans would need to sign on to compel votes against the wishes of GOP leaders, assuming all House Democrats back it.

Discharge petitions are almost never successful, since they require members of the majority party to buck their own party brass and force votes on legislation that leaders would prefer to keep off the floor. And Ryan on Wednesday warned his troops against the discharge petition strategy, arguing that it empowers the minority Democrats.

“We do not agree with discharge petitions; we think they are a mistake. They dis-unify our majority,” Ryan said during his own press conference in the Capitol. “Members of our majority fall into different camps, and they want a solution on DACA, and they want a solution on the border and the security issues, so we want to accommodate all of that.”

Several hours later, Reps. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act Lawmakers renew efforts to put Harriet Tubman on bill MORE (R-N.Y.) and Dave TrottDavid Alan TrottMeet the lawmakers putting politics aside to save our climate Michigan New Members 2019 Democrats flip Michigan seat in race between two political newcomers MORE (R-Mich.) defied those warnings and signed the petition.

The issue of immigration has divided the Republicans for years, pitting centrist lawmakers who support protecting certain immigrants without legal status against conservative hard-liners who back a tougher enforcement regime and the mass deportation of millions of people.

Those divisions have been forced front-and-center in a tough election year for the Republicans, when a number of GOP centrists — particularly those from districts with significant Hispanic populations — have grown increasingly concerned that GOP inaction on DACA poses a threat to their reelection. Aside from Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDisinvited GOP lawmaker turns up at Dem hearing Overnight Energy: 2020 rivals rip Biden over expected 'middle ground' climate plan | Dems cancel plans to invite Republican to testify on climate change | House passes .2B disaster aid bill over Trump objections Dems cancel plans to bring in Republican as climate change witness MORE (R-Fla.), who sponsored the petition, the Republicans leading the DACA charge include Reps. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamEx-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm Crazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine Polling editor says news outlets should be more cautious calling elections MORE (R-Calif.), David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoThe 8 House Republicans who voted against Trump’s border wall The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — The political currents that will drive the shutdown showdown Rep. Valadao officially concedes in California race MORE (R-Calif.) and Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDemocrats talk subpoena for Mueller Here are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act MORE (R-Texas), all of whom are facing tough reelections in heavily Hispanic districts. 

Seeking a solution, Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Congress, White House near deal on spending, debt limit On The Money: Congress, White House aim to include debt limit increase in spending deal | McConnell optimistic budget deal near | Carson defends HUD eviction plan | Senate votes to undo tax hike on Gold Star families MORE (R-Calif.) huddled with President Trump at the White House on Tuesday in search of an immigration bill that could thread the needle of divergent ideologies and become law. They have a tough job ahead of them, as the bill will need both the support of Democrats — who could use a Senate filibuster to block it — and the president, who has been all over the board when it comes to what immigration measures he’d sign. 

Pelosi on Wednesday promoted a bipartisan proposal — sponsored by Hurd and Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarPro-business Dem group sees boost in fundraising Left flexes muscle in immigration talks Immigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security MORE (D-Calif.) — that would combine Dreamer protections with new funding to bolster border security. The bill is one of four proposals that would be forced to the floor if Curbelo’s discharge petition proves successful.

Ryan has opposed bringing Hurd-Aguilar to the floor, saying the move is futile since Trump won’t sign it. But Pelosi rejected that argument on Tuesday, noting that Trump has urged Congress to protect the DACA beneficiaries.

“They don’t know that the president will veto the Hurd-Aguilar bill. I don’t know if the president knows if he would veto the Hurd-Aguilar bill,” Pelosi said. 

“At the time he said he wanted to get something done,” she added. “I don’t know who cancels that out at the White House, but what he says publicly is encouraging, gives us hope, and then somebody puts the nix on it at the White House.”