Speaker Paul Ryan (R – Wi.) and crew will be working through the weekend to get a Republican immigration bill on paper by June 12 that can garner at least 218 votes.
Ryan and his allies, who have scrambled in the last week to quell a Republican insurrection regarding a discharge petition that would force a draft immigration bill to a vote, spent two hours in a closed-door meeting in the Capitol’s basement convincing their caucus to hold off on any more signatories to the petition. His efforts reportedly paid off.
“The next step is to start putting pen to paper and get legislation to the floor,” the Wisconsin Republican told reporters afterwards.
The promise seems to have bought them some time in their search for an elusive DACA deal that can win the support of centrist immigration reformers and conservative hardliners.
The new unofficial deadline appears to be June 12, leaving leadership just five days to craft legislation they believe can garner 218 GOP votes. Supporters of the petition are two Republican signatures away from the number of members needed to bypass leadership and bring the “Queen of the Hill” rule to the floor.
“We are looking forward to seeing an agreement put on paper,” Rep. Jeff Denham(R-Calif.), one of the leading forces behind the discharge petition, told reporters following the meeting. “We finished a very productive meeting. We’ve had a lot of productive meetings, but ultimately this is about writing a bill that makes sense for the country.”
Staving off the revolt was a test of Speaker Ryan’s ability to still lead the House Republicans since his announcement that he will be stepping down as speaker at the end of the current term.
While Ryan was able to do so for now, conservative immigration hawks see the June 12 deadline as a starting point.
“I still don’t think they have a pathway to get there, and now they’re going to put pen to paper and we’ll see what it looks like, ” said Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas).
“I think it’s the beginning of the process.”
The question now is whether anything will come of it or stall as moderates and conservatives get to the all too familiar loggerheads over immigration and how to handle the so-called DREAMers.