McCarthy dismisses push for vote on immigration bills

McCarthy dismisses push for vote on immigration bills
© Greg Nash
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCollege Republicans launch campaign calling for GOP to take action on climate change Pelosi's whiplash moment brings praise and criticism GOP calls for minority hearing on impeachment, threatens procedural measures MORE (R-Calif.) on Thursday dismissed a bipartisan proposal to vote on four immigration bills at once, despite growing support among the GOP's rank-and-file for a vote.
Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamBottom line Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company MORE (R-Calif.) has rounded up 49 Republicans to support what's known as a "Queen of the Hill" rule, a proposal to consider several bills at once.
Forcing the vote, using what's known as a discharge petition, would amount to a challenge to leadership. Still, it's one that more and more supporters of immigration reform seem to be comfortable with.
While Denham said he has the numbers for a discharge petition, he’s expressed reluctance to commit to filing the motion. 
Still, leadership is dismissing the notion altogether.
"I don't believe discharge petitions are the way to legislate," McCarthy told The Hill. "I don't believe members in the conference believe that, either."
"[Denham's] got 50 co-sponsors, so they would have to convince more than half of those to not sign on to a discharge," he said.
Denham, who presented the strategy on Wednesday flanked by Aguilar and Reps. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamCapitol Christmas tree lights up Washington Here are 16 places celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day for the first time this year New Mexico releases plan to provide free college to all state residents: report MORE (D-N.M.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdGroup of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' CNN's Bianna Golodryga: 'Rumblings' from Democrats on censuring Trump instead of impeachment Republicans preview impeachment defense strategy MORE (R-Texas), Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (R-Colo.) and David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoCalifornia Republican ousted in 2018 announces rematch for House seat The 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 MORE (R-Calif.), dismissed Ryan's concerns about a Trump veto, saying few bipartisan measures have such widespread support.
"You should not need to force a vote or have a discharge petition or have a protest out in the front yard when you have 250-plus people that are continuing to sign on," said Denham. "So this growing number, we think, will not only show the Speaker but will show the president that this is what the people's House wants to do."
At issue is legislation to restore protections from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump ended in September.
After a flurry of legislative attempts, Congress essentially gave up on DACA after the courts put a stay on Trump's rescission of the program, allowing its 690,000 recipients to keep their benefits: work permits and protection for deportation.
During that legislative whirlwind, four rough proposals to deal with the future of so-called Dreamers — DACA recipients and other immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors — were considered.
Under Denham's rule, those four proposals would be voted on at the same time on the House floor, and whichever idea received the most votes over 218 would be sent to the Senate.
Under "Queen of the Hill," slots are assigned to specific legislators to propose their own bills. 
The slots in Denham's rule are for Goodlatte, who is expected to propose a conservative measure that would grant temporary protection to DACA recipients in exchange for cuts to the legal immigration system; Rep. Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers Lawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms MORE (D-Calif.), a co-sponsor of the Dream Act, which would grant a path to citizenship to roughly 1.8 million Dreamers; Ryan, who's expected to propose a bill akin to a four-pillar White House proposal; and Denham, who has said he'll propose the USA Act, a bipartisan measure that ties the Dream Act to extensive border security measures.
The array of options has not been enough to convince Ryan or McCarthy, who've pledged to support Goodlatte's proposal, that a Queen of the Hill strategy is the path forward.
But for some House conservatives, it's an understandable strategy — if not one they'll sign on to.
"Jeff Denham is representing the 750,000 people he's got the privilege of representing, and he believes he needs to have a vote that deals with DACA," said Meadows.
"I can't criticize that. Even though it may not be my path, it's certainly to be applauded," he added.
Still, Ryan's stuck to his support for the Goodlatte bill and to laying blame on Democrats, who declined in March an offer from the White House that would extend DACA until 2020 in exchange for $25 billion in border security funding.
"Republicans made three good-faith offers during the omnibus negotiations and Democrats declined all of them. We continue to work to find the support for a solution that addresses both border security and DACA," said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan.
That's started to wear at the patience of Republicans who favor immigration legislation, particularly those from Latino-heavy districts or suburban districts where a DACA solution has polled well.
Rep. Dan NewhouseDaniel (Dan) Milton NewhouseHow we compromised to help America's farms Bipartisan group reveals agricultural worker immigration bill From state agriculture departments to Congress: Our farmers need the USMCA MORE (R-Wash.), who in December led 34 House Republicans in writing a letter to Ryan asking for quick action on the matter, said he's still working to move legislation forward without forcing a vote. 
Asked if a discharge petition was the next step, Newhouse said, "I'm getting close to the point where I think we have to get this done and Congress has to work this through." 
"This is almost a last-ditch effort, which we may be getting close to that, but I'm not sure we are yet. But if that's an option to have it available, I'm OK with that," he added.
Newhouse has not signed on to Denham's resolution, although he supports it, because he is a member of the Rules Committee.
Rep. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat Democratic lawmaker invites Republican to town hall after he accuses her of dodging voters on impeachment MORE (R-Va.), who's signed on to Denham's resolution, said he doesn't yet support a discharge petition, but criticized leadership for using a potential presidential veto as an argument not to consider Denham's proposal.
"I don't think that we should operate like that, in terms of what we think the president may or may not do," said Taylor. 
"I know that [Ryan] said that before. Respectfully, I'm not sure if I'd agree with that," he added.