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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 PelosiPelosi heckled by Miami Republicans, Proud Boys at campaign event Pelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care Trump urges Dems to help craft new immigration laws: ‘Chuck & Nancy, call me!' 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 RyanPelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care Trump urges Dems to help craft new immigration laws: ‘Chuck & Nancy, call me!' Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa 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 TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council 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 KatkoCook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems Midterms put GOP centrists in peril Cyberattacks are a constant fear 17 years after 9/11 MORE (R-N.Y.) and Dave TrottDavid Alan TrottElection Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight House battlefield expands as ad wars hit new peak Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests 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 CurbeloDems see blue 'tsunami' in House as Senate path narrows GOP spokeswoman says Republicans will lose House seats in midterms Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems MORE (R-Fla.), who sponsored the petition, the Republicans leading the DACA charge include Reps. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamDems target small cluster of states in battle for House Poll: Dems lead in 5 critical California House seats Dems announce third-quarter fundraising bonanza MORE (R-Calif.), David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoIn quest for majority, Dems swarm McCarthy’s home state Dems make big play for House in California Immigration overhaul on life support in the House MORE (R-Calif.) and Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters for midterms MORE (R-Texas), all of whom are facing tough reelections in heavily Hispanic districts. 

Seeking a solution, Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMaxine Waters gets company in new GOP line of attack The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms Conservatives fear Trump will cut immigration deal 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 AguilarHispanic Dems want answers on detention of immigrant minors Aguilar launches bid for Democratic leadership position Koch group launches digital ads in tight Texas House race 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.”