|Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy seek to kill debate on immigration reform.|
Donald Trump is not the only anti-immigrant Republican. The entire GOP Congressional leadership opposes meaningful comprehensive immigration reform despite the support for such legislation by a majority of Americans. Given the majority support of voters, some Republicans in the House facing re-election have filed a discharge petition to force debate on an immigration reform bill. The move sent the GOP leadership into a panic given that open debate would underscore the anti-immigrant animus of the GOP agenda. As of yesterday, the GOP leadership was scrambling to kill the rebellion of those in their party who seemingly want to pass legislation that will address the concerns of a majority of voters, not just the white supremist and white Christian nationals of the GOP base. The Washington Post looks at the frantic effort to stop debate. Here are article highlights:
House Republican leaders made a full-court press Wednesday to forestall a GOP immigration rebellion that they fear could derail their legislative agenda and throw their effort to hold the majority in doubt.The effort began in a closed-door morning meeting where Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that a freewheeling immigration debate could have sharp political consequences. It continued in the evening, when the leaders of a petition effort that would sidestep were summoned to a room with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), McCarthy and three other top leaders.
Their message, according to attendees, was that efforts were underway at the highest levels, including with the White House, to get immigration legislation on the House floor before the midterm elections.
The House leaders presented no firm plan for action at the meeting, and the petition effort will continue, Curbelo and others said afterward. Reps. John Katko (N.Y.) and David A. Trott (Mich.) became the 19th and 20th Republicans to Wednesday. If all 193 Democrats join the petition, five more Republican signatures are needed to force action, which could come as soon as next month. The immigration issue has bedeviled congressional Republicans, with members in swing districts eager to strike a compromise that would legalize “dreamers” — young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children — while conservatives have been wary of granting anything that could be construed as “amnesty” for lawbreakers, at least not without major policy concessions. McCarthy had a blunter message, according to two members present who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting and as first reported by Politico: Signing the discharge petition and paving the way for passage of a moderate immigration bill could hurt Republicans in November’s elections by depressing conservative turnout and upending leadership’s plans to focus on tax cuts and other GOP successes. Curbelo and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), another leader of the discharge effort, responded inside the meeting by recalling months of promises that the House would act. “This is something the American public is demanding,” Denham said in an interview, adding, “I also believe the majority is at stake if we do nothing.”
[T]hey also face pressure from their right flank to block the discharge effort. Members of the House Freedom Caucus are threatening to hold up passage of a massive farm bill this week unless leaders schedule a vote on a conservative immigration bill co-authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.).
The discharge petition would set up votes on a series of bills, including the Goodlatte-McCaul bill, which has been written to please conservatives but has languished well short of the majority necessary to pass. Two bipartisan bills are more likely to pass if brought up for a vote, but they are likely to win more support from Democrats than Republicans and could violate the informal GOP leadership rule barring the consideration of bills not supported by a majority of Republicans. Neither includes the wall or visa restrictions that Trump has demanded. Still, the 20 House Republicans who have signed the petition have made clear they are done waiting after years of hoping their party’s leaders would bring some immigration bill — any immigration bill — to the floor. Hours before signing the petition, Trott said his own patience had nearly run out and Congress needed to resolve the uncertainty created by Trump’s cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “I didn’t hear a plan today,” he said after leaving the morning meeting. “Time’s running out. We need to do something.”