GOP leaders assured members during Wednesday’s conference meeting that they are still working to bring an immigration bill to the floor. Under new pressure, Ryan and McCarthy met with Trump at the White House on Tuesday to try to come up with legislation that would have the backing of Republicans, Democrats and the president.
Vulnerable Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), a close leadership ally, said she’s against discharge petitions in general but added that she expects Congress to move on immigration soon.
“I think we’ve got to get everybody in a room and keep working on this like we’ve been trying to,” she said.
But if leadership does not bring immigration legislation to the floor in the coming weeks, more Republicans have warned they may sign the petition.
“I do reserve the right to, if leadership doesn’t keep their word and bring some bills to the floor pretty quickly,” said Barton, who is a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act.
If the effort does secure 218 signatures, there is little Ryan and his top lieutenants can do to stop the effort. But there are a few options that discharge opponents are pressing them to use.
We are nervous that we think this immigration thing is coming quickly,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus leader. “So we’re trying to figure out ways we can do right on immigration.”
Some Freedom Caucus members said they would be willing to back a pending GOP farm bill if Ryan agrees to put the standalone bill from Goodlatte and McCaul on the floor to derail the discharge petition.
While leadership wants to pass the farm bill, a vote on the Goodlatte-McCaul legislation — which does not have the votes to pass now — could be politically embarrassing and force members to take a position on a bill that has little chance to become law this year.
And Denham pointed out that the idea would only work if enough GOP lawmakers agreed to support the rule allowing the Goodlatte-McCaul bill to come to the floor. Democrats routinely vote against such procedural motions.
“If they’re going to bring up a bill, that bill also has to come up on a rule first,” Denham said, “and I don’t think the rule would have enough votes.”