Last week, a group of House Republicans — frustrated with their leadership’s failure to let them vote on legislation that would to provide permanent protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children — launched an attempt to use a rarely-used procedure called a “discharge petition” to bring immigration reform measures to the floor.
If 218 members sign onto the petition, it would circumvent the GOP leadership and force floor votes on the issue. Assuming all of the 193 House Democrats support the effort to bring immigration reform to a vote, just 25 Republicans in total need to sign onto the petition to force action.
On Wednesday morning, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) reportedly warned his caucus in a closed-door meeting not to let that happen.
At a press availability on Wednesday morning, Ryan explained his reasoning: “Obviously, we do not agree with discharge petitions. We think they are a mistake. They disunify our majority,” he told reporters.
Instead, Ryan said he wants to find a way to “accommodate” both the views of those in his majority bloc who want protections against President Trump’s attempts to eliminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections and those who desire a solution on “border and the security issues.”
But if the discharge petition is successful, the GOP leadership would have a chance to have members vote on a bill of its choosing as one of four options that would come to the floor. And it is unclear whether Ryan’s gambit will work.
Eighteen Republican lawmakers signed the petition last week (as did one Democrat). On Wednesday, two more House Republicans — Reps. David Trott of Michigan and John Katko of New York — signed onto the petition, bringing the total to 20 Republicans. A second Democrat signed as well. Just five more Republicans, combined with the remaining 191 Democrats, could make this happen.
If the Trump administration is able to survive court challenges to its DACA repeal orders and a legislative solution isn’t enacted, nearly 700,000 people who were brought to the United States as children by their undocumented families could face deportation.