House Majority Whip Steve Scalise expressed cautious optimism Tuesday that GOP leadership, moderates and conservatives could reach an immigration deal and put an end to a weeks-long intra-party impasse.
“We are trying to get to an agreement on a bill that we can bring forward that can get 218 votes,” the Louisiana Republican told POLITICO Playbook’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman in an interview. “We’re not there yet, but I think we’re moving a lot closer. And in exchange we would also make sure there would be no discharge petition.”
A discharge petition led by a group of centrist Republicans is three signatures shy of the 218 needed to force a series of votes on immigration bills. If lawmakers hit their mark later Tuesday — moderates’ latest self-imposed deadline — the House will take up the bills at the end of the month.
House GOP leaders are eager to avoid a rebellion on the floor and are heartened after picking off Florida Republican Dennis Ross on Monday. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Scalise both had discussions with Ross, who decided against adding his signature after leadership committed to holding a vote on a guest worker program before the August recess.
Immigration is perhaps the most divisive issue the Republican Party faces today. A group of roughly two dozen centrist Republicans fear failure to try to shield from deportation undocumented immigrants who came into the U.S. illegally as children could cost them their seats in what’s shaping up to a be tough election year for the GOP. But Republican leaders worry a successful vote on a bipartisan immigration bill will upset their base and cost them something far greater: their House majority.
Votes that would emerge from a discharge petition would range from a conservative bill led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to the Dream Act. President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last year, but it’s been upheld by the courts.
By Nolan D. McCaskill for POLITICO
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