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 PelosiHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Omar controversies shadow Dems at AIPAC Five things to watch as AIPAC conference kicks off 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 RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down 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 TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' 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 KatkoThe importance of moderate voters Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' 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 CurbeloEx-GOP lawmaker joins marijuana trade group Dems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE (R-Fla.), who sponsored the petition, the Republicans leading the DACA charge include Reps. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamCrazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine Polling editor says news outlets should be more cautious calling elections Rep. Valadao officially concedes in California race 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 HurdProperty is a fundamental right that is now being threatened The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-Texas), all of whom are facing tough reelections in heavily Hispanic districts. 

Seeking a solution, Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse leaders need to modernize Congress for the sake of America Overnight Energy: McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal | Centrist Dems pitch alternative to plan | House Republican likens Green New Deal to genocide | Coca-Cola reveals it uses 3M tons of plastic every year House GOP lawmaker says Green New Deal is like genocide 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 AguilarLeft flexes muscle in immigration talks Immigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security Lawmakers haggling over border dollars much lower than Trump's demand 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.”