House slated to vote on two im­mi­gra­tion bills next week

Repub­li­cans unite for big show­down

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

House Repub­li­cans have reached a deal to vote on two im­mi­gra­tion bills next week, Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s of­fice said Tues­day, set­ting the stage for a high-stakes floor show­down over the fate of mil­lions of il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

House Repub­li­cans will hash out the op­tions at a closed-door meet­ing Wed­nes­day morn­ing, said Ash­Lee Strong, Mr. Ryan’s spokes­woman.

The mere act of sched­ul­ing votes is sym­bol­i­cally huge. It will be the first time since Repub­li­cans re­took con­trol of the cham­ber in 2010 that they have put a ma­jor le­gal­iza­tion bill on the floor.

But the fact that two bills will be put on the floor sug­gests there is still no una­nim­ity within the party on how far to go on le­gal­iza­tion of “Dream­ers,” nor on how to stiffen bor­der se­cu­rity and in­te­rior en­force­ment to pre­vent an­other wave of unau­tho­rized mi­gra­tion.

The an­nounce­ment did, how­ever, defuse a pe­ti­tion drive backed by rebel Repub­li­cans and Democrats that had threat­ened to side­line Repub­li­can lead­ers and turn con­trol of the is­sue over to the mi­nor­ity.

“Mem­bers across the Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence have ne­go­ti­ated di­rectly and in good faith with each other for sev­eral weeks, and as a re­sult, the House will con­sider two bills next week that will avert the dis­charge pe­ti­tion and re­solve the bor­der se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion is­sues,” Ms. Strong said.

Her an­nounce­ment came af­ter a se­ries of in­tense ne­go­ti­a­tions. Con­ser­va­tives and mod­er­ates met in Mr. Ryan’s of­fice for more than 90 min­utes Tues­day af­ter­noon, emerg­ing to say they were mak­ing progress. They re­treated to their own cor­ners to see how far each was

will­ing to bend.

“We don’t have a deal at this point. We’re at the mid­night hour,” Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, one of the con­ser­va­tive lead­ers, told re­porters as he emerged from the talks in Mr. Ryan’s of­fice.

They were rac­ing a self-im­posed Tues­day dead­line to head off the pe­ti­tion drive.

Un­der ar­cane House rules, if the “dis­charge pe­ti­tion,” as it’s of­fi­cial known, had got­ten 218 sig­na­tures by Tues­day it would have forced a free-wheel­ing de­bate on four dif­fer­ent bills, in­clud­ing two Demo­cratic-backed alternatives, at the end of this month.

But the House re­cessed with just 216 sig­na­tures Tues­day — two shy of the num­ber needed.

Now, the next pos­si­ble chance for floor ac­tion from the pe­ti­tion drive would be the end of July.

Still, the pe­ti­tion put pres­sure on Repub­li­can lead­ers, who worked fever­ishly to strike a com­pro­mise be­tween the mod­er­ates and con­ser­va­tives.

Both sides seem to agree on grant­ing some form of more-per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus to Dream­ers, the young adult il­le­gal im­mi­grants who came to the U.S. as chil­dren, and who are seen as the most sym­pa­thetic fig­ures in the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate.

But whether that in­cludes full cit­i­zen­ship rights, whether they will be able to then sponsor their par­ents who broke the law to bring them to the U.S., and what ad­di­tional im­mi­gra­tion re­stric­tions will be added on are all in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Repub­li­can lead­ers had begged mod­er­ates not to sign onto the pe­ti­tion drive, say­ing it would ef­fec­tively grant con­trol of the floor to Democrats.

They pleaded for all sides to stay in the ongoing talks.

“We still don’t have an agree­ment, but you have seen mem­bers from a lot of dif­fer­ent sides of this is­sue come to­gether in a real com­mit­ted way to try to find an agree­ment,” Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise said Tues­day evening. “We are go­ing to keep work­ing at it.”

Un­der the pe­ti­tion drive, four bills would have come to the floor — though all the mo­men­tum would have been be­hind a ver­sion worked out by the Repub­li­can rebels and Democrats that would com­bine cit­i­zen­ship for more than 2 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants with prom­ises of a fu­ture study of bor­der se­cu­rity.

Repub­li­can lead­ers would also be al­lowed to of­fer a bill of their choos­ing — though with­out agree­ment in their own ranks, it’s un­likely it would sur­mount the Demo­cratic al­ter­na­tive.

Mr. Ryan’s coun­ter­pro­posal, in­stead, en­vi­sions two bills.

One of those is likely to be an en­force­ment-heavy plan writ­ten by Rep. Bob Good­latte, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can and chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. The other bill is likely to emerge from the ongoing ne­go­ti­a­tions.

What­ever the House votes on, it’s not clear that there’s a path to be­com­ing law.

Sen­a­tors tried to find an im­mi­gra­tion com­pro­mise ear­lier this year, only to stum­ble.

Any bill that can get the ap­proval of GOP lead­ers in the House is likely to draw a Demo­cratic fil­i­buster in the Se­nate. But any bill that could pass with Demo­cratic votes is likely to be ve­toed by Pres­i­dent Trump, Repub­li­cans say.

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