Pelosi: Discharge petition won't promote Trump's wall

Pelosi: Discharge petition won't promote Trump's wall
© Greg Nash

Seeking to unify Democrats around the immigration debate, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that forcing votes to protect "Dreamers" is no rubber stamp for funding President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE’s U.S.–Mexico border wall.

A pair of Texas Democrats from border districts — Reps. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaBorder Dems introduce bill to process refugee claims in Central America How Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others New Dem caucus chairman: Some wall is good, but not new wall MORE and Vicente González — are withholding their support for a Republican procedural gambit, known as a discharge petition, designed to compel votes on four bills rescuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed certain immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children to work and go to school.

The holdouts are concerned that the petition — which would launch a “Queen of the Hill” process pitting the four DACA bills against each other — would lead to the adoption of legislation that would ultimately fund new border wall construction.

Their opposition, if it persists, would force GOP immigration reformers to find more Republicans willing to endorse the petition. That goal is a tall order, since signing on requires bucking the wishes of the party brass.

The bill widely viewed as the most popular of the four — a proposal sponsored by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act Iraq War vet Ortiz Jones sets up rematch against Hurd in Texas MORE (R-Texas) and 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.) — does not explicitly fund new wall construction. But some Democrats say the $25 billion it includes for border security could ultimately lead to such construction.

“Upon reviewing the legislation, we have determined that while the measure may not overtly direct the construction of new miles of physical wall in furtherance of the President’s proposal, it could easily be interpreted as doing so,” Vela wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter, which he and Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact Huawei officials say they would 'welcome' US ban on tech posing national security risk MORE (D-Miss.) sent to fellow Democrats in February.

Thompson is the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Pelosi this week is disputing that interpretation, promoting the Hurd-Aguilar bill as a viable bipartisan compromise to protect the Dreamers — without new wall construction. She predicted that virtually every Democrat will endorse the discharge petition, and suggested the holdouts simply need “clarification” of what the Hurd-Aguilar bill would do.

“I think we have 99 percent of our members to be signing on. And we’ll have conversations with the others about what the equities are,” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol.

“I think there is some clarification that is needed about what actually is in the bill. They’re saying it’s a wall, and it’s not a wall.”

Pelosi said she’s confident that, if the Republicans win enough signatures, Democrats would take the petition across the finish line.

“The issue is getting the Republican signatures on the bill,” she said.

The Queen of the Hill resolution, sponsored by Rep. 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.), would force floor votes on four separate DACA bills: the Hurd-Aguilar legislation; the Dream Act, which is favored by liberals; a bill sponsored by Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (R-Va.), which is favored by conservatives; and a yet-unspecified proposal to be chosen by 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.).

The discharge petition, sponsored by 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.), needs 25 Republican signatures to reach 218, assuming all Democrats eventually sign on. Twenty Republicans have endorsed it so far, but Ryan and other GOP leaders are urging others to refrain from doing so, warning that the strategy empowers the minority Democrats.

Republican leaders huddled Wednesday evening in Ryan’s office with centrist immigration reformers, including Curbelo and Denham, and then with a separate group of hard-line conservatives immediately afterward. The conservatives oppose the discharge petition and are seeking procedural ways to sink it.

Ryan is urging patience, saying he wants to come up with a bipartisan DACA bill that can pass both chambers and win the signature of Trump, who has demanded billions of dollars in new border wall funding.

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerSenators say they've reached deal on Puerto Rico aid 5 things to watch as Trump, Dems clash over investigations GOP lawmaker: Trump has engaged in multiple actions that 'meet the threshold for impeachment' MORE (D-Md.), the minority whip, said this week that Democratic leaders are open to accepting new wall funding as part of a compromise to protect the Dreamers.

Though not a new position — many Democrats had voted for more than $1 billion for new border security as part of the March omnibus package — it drew an outcry from Vela, who has vowed in the past that “under no circumstances will I vote for a bill that provides a penny for border wall funding.”

Pelosi said she hasn’t been in talks with Ryan or other GOP leaders about the specifics of a bipartisan deal to rescue DACA, saying “the beauty” of the current discharge-petition effort is that it’s being championed by rank-and-file Republicans.

“The Speaker should take control — maintain control — of the floor by just bringing the bill up,” she said.

“But that’s their own negotiation over there. I’m not involved in it.”