House GOP factions at odds as immigration showdown nears

Antonio Villaraigosa campaigns at the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Training Facility in Sylmar in April

The progress came after House GOP members spent two hours behind closed doors huddling Thursday morning, a rare full-party confab on the issue of immigration.

The moderate Republicans leading the charge for a last-ditch agreement for young undocumented immigrants said GOP leaders have until Tuesday to find a deal that can placate the conference, or they'll join forces with Democrats to force a floor vote on a bill along the lines of the DREAM Act. A day earlier, some said they expected House Speaker Paul Ryan to suggest ideas for ending the standoff between moderates who want a pathway to citizenship for "Dreamers" brought into the US illegally as children, and conservatives opposed to that idea. Now conservatives are incorporating other issues, including how immigrants can seek asylum.

Moderate Republicans are now saying they will hold off on adding additional signatures to the discharge petition until Tuesday, buying GOP leadership a bit more time to craft a formal proposal. They hope they can head off unhappy moderates trying to force votes on bills providing a chance for citizenship for thousands of young immigrants brought to the US illegally. The trick will be to find a path that can appease vulnerable members and base-pleasing conservatives in a hard election year - and to save face for leadership while jockeying to replace outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan. The petition had 215 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

"The best we can do is basically make sure that we exhaust the possibilities of coming together as a House Republican conference to bring a bill to a floor that everyone can support", said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"Members were running a discharge petition because they were anxious we weren't going to take action", Ryan told reporters after the meeting.

What Is a Discharge Petition Anyway? "They are, and that's natural". "I don't know. The Caps won this year, didn't they?"

Ryan called Thursday's unusual gathering, focused exclusively on immigration, in part to stop the petition's momentum.

According to the Fox News poll, 72 percent of Democrats said they were either extremely or very interested in the contests.

But even within that "four pillars" framework, plenty remained unsettled.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said a large group of conservatives he leads has discussed providing a pathway to citizenship to "Dreamers" in exchange for funding for the proposed border wall, ending the visa lottery and limiting the relatives immigrants can bring into the country. There are roughly 700,000 now covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but Trump has proposed legal status for up to 1.8 million Dreamers. Ryan wants to remain speaker through the remainder of this Congress.

Democrat Katie Hill is a candidate for the House of Representatives in District 25
Democrat Katie Hill is a candidate for the House of Representatives in District 25

Federal court rulings have taken some heat off Congress by requiring the administration to keep the program running as challenges make their way through the judicial system.

Carlos Curbelo told CBS4 News that he believes a compromise could be close.

Republican leaders began convening the talks between moderate and conservative Republicans when dueling uprisings collided. "That has been the thorniest issue from the start".

The letter came shortly before House conservatives, moderates and leaders met Thursday to negotiate a possible solution, and as a faction of Republicans supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program teamed up with Democrats on a petition that would force House votes on the issue.

"This was their offer to us and it's something we can agree to, but not until we see it on paper", Denham said.

Leaders want to "work with our members to get things done and avoid a discharge petition", Ryan said of the seldom-used process that centrists are applying to try to force the votes. But the fact is that Republican leadership controls what legislation goes to the floor.

President Donald Trump greets Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn during a rally at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., May 29, 2018.

The new schedule could also enable their Republican challengers - many of whom hail from the private sector or state government - to have the states to themselves during the late-summer stretch.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that immigration wasn't on the agenda for the remainder of the year, after the Senate voted on multiple immigration proposals ― including one supported by Trump ― in February, and none garnered enough votes to pass.

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