- A group of moderate Republicans are banding together with Democrats to force a vote on immigration reforms.
- Republican leaders are dismissing the effort as futile that would be a “spectacle” on the floor.
WASHINGTON – A small group of moderate Republicans alongside Democrats are banding together to force a vote on an immigration bill in the House, much to the dismay of GOP leaders and the White House.
Using a procedural method called a discharge petition, nearly two-dozen Republicans are trying to court enough colleagues, in addition to the entire Democratic conference, to force a “queen of the hill” style vote on a series of immigration bills that would circumvent House Speaker Paul Ryan’s control of the floor. All that is required is that 218 members sign the petition, which would be every Democrat and about two-dozen Republicans.
Ryan has yet to put immigration legislation up for a vote in the two months after several proposals went down in flames in the Senate. The stalling on an issue where Democrats and even the wealthy megadonor Koch brothers have wanted a solution has brought a handful of Republicans to a breaking point.
Rep. Ryan Costello, who is one of the 17 Republicans to sign the discharge petition, told reporters on Thursday that while the effort is “disruptive” to the schedule, it is a necessary action to take on GOP leadership.
“I think they’re all good people. They all do a good job,” Costello said of the Republican brass. “But on the issue of immigration, we haven’t had anything on the floor and I think that we should have a floor debate on immigration and try to cobble together as much as possible and get a bipartisan bill and get it over to the Senate.”
Discharge petitions are very rare and are tantamount to turning the House floor over to the minority, House Speaker Paul Ryan argues.
“Going down a path and having some kind of spectacle on the floor that just results in a veto doesn’t solve a problem,” Ryan said Thursday.
Ryan added that because a broad bipartisan approach without the confidence of leadership could produce a bill that would displease President Donald Trump, the effort is a futile one.
“I want to have a vote on something that can make it into law,” Ryan said. “I don’t wanna have show ponies. I wanna have actual law, and that means the White House has to be a part of this and it’s got to be a bill that the president can sign.”
When a reporter noted that the leadership could also offer legislation of their own that Trump would support, such as the Goodlatte-McCaul bill, Ryan said, “I’ll leave what I said as what I said.”
And Trump has already expressed sharp disapproval of all the past bipartisan immigration bills that made the rounds in Congress.
The one amendment to a bill that came remotely close to passing was a plan offered by Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Mike Rounds, which Trump wrote on Twitter was a “total catastrophe” that “would be a vote AGAINST law enforcement, and a vote FOR open borders.”
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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