WASHINGTON — House Republicans struggled Thursday to find consensus on the future of undocumented immigrants who were illegally brought into the country, but House Speaker Paul Ryan still vowed to bring legislation to the floor for a vote before the midterm election.
Ryan, R-Wis., held a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers at odds over proposed legislation and how to treat the roughly 800,000 DREAMers in this country.
The DREAMers, including 14,000 in Nevada, were protected from deportation until President Donald Trump terminated the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Following the meeting, Ryan said legislation could be voted on before the November election. However, the speaker provided no timeline, and he conceded that a compromise has yet to be reached.
Ryan said the next step is to “put pen to paper” and write a bill to present to the full House.
Rank-and-file Republicans remained doubtful anything would happen soon, given the divide between Republicans on immigration.
“Nothing is imminent,” Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., told the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the meeting.
Amodei is one of 23 Republicans who have joined Democrats and signed a discharge petition that would force GOP leaders to hold a vote on a series of immigration bills.
Supporters of the discharge petition need just three more signatures to force GOP leaders to bring the series of immigration bills to the floor.
Amodei said Ryan was adamant he didn’t want the discharge petition to drive the process.
A successful discharge petition would be seen as an embarrassment to GOP leadership. Some Republicans have argued that those GOP members who signed the petition were ceding control to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Amodei bristled at having his conservative bona fides questioned, and produced a list of GOP signees that shows 13 of 23 have a higher voting record than Ryan on Trump-supported issues.
The Nevada lawmaker said he and other members are frustrated with the inaction in the House and want to vote on the issue.
Other GOP members, though, have congressional districts with large Hispanic and immigrant residents.
One of the bills being pushed for a vote is a bipartisan approach that would grant citizenship after 12 years to DACA-eligible immigrants who have served in the military, attended college or are gainfully employed.
Conservative Republicans are loath to agree to any legislation that provides earned citizenship, which they have branded as “amnesty.” They have rallied around a bill that would offer temporary protection from deportation but not a path to citizenship.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who heads the conservative Freedom Caucus, said lawmakers had yet to reach consensus on how to deal with the Dreamers.
Ryan said Republicans would continue to work to write legislation that resembles Trump’s pillars of immigration policy released earlier this year. That would include a wall on the Southwest border, as well as cuts to legal immigration.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has written the bill that would provide Dreamers temporary protection, cut legal immigration and fund border security measures.
Republicans on both sides of the schism continued to negotiate Thursday.
One of the GOP leaders pushing the discharge petition, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., said if consensus is not reached by next Tuesday, they would act.
He said supporters have the signatures to release the discharge petition.