Worried in part over the potentially disastrous midterm elections, a growing group of Republican legislators in politically perilous circumstances have begun pushing a legislative tactic to force a floor vote on several immigration bills, over the objection of their own party leadership. Of course, since these are Republicans we’re talking about, the bills still seem pretty noxious.
Known as a “discharge petition,” the maneuver requires the support of at least 218 congressmen, and would essentially overrule Speaker Paul Ryan’s resistance to bringing any immigration votes to the floor. As of Wednesday evening, 16 GOP lawmakers have signed onto Florida Representative Carlos Curbelo’s filed petition. Assuming the entire Democratic caucus also signs on, Curbelo’s petition would only need 8 more Republicans to force a vote.
So far, the following GOP representatives are on board:
- Carlos Curbelo-Florida
- Jeff Denham-California
- David G. Valadao-California
- Will Hurd-Texas
- Mario Diaz-Balart-Florida
- Mia B. Love-Utah
- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen-Florida
- Charles W. Dent-Pennsylvania
- Fred Upton-Michigan
- David G. Reichert-Washington
- Mike Coffman-Colorado
- Chris Collins-New York
- John J. Faso-New York
- Mark E. Amodei-Nevada
- Elise M. Stefanik-New York
- Leonard Lance-New Jersey
- Ryan A. Costello-Pennsylvania
The move has a decidedly political edge; as the Washington Post noted, “Most, but not all [of the representatives signing on] represent swing districts with significant Latino constituencies or are retiring from the House.”
GOP leadership, however, isn’t thrilled.
“I don’t believe in discharge petitions,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. “You’re turning the floor over. I think it’s better to use the legislative process.”
Majority Whip Steve Scalise also spoke out against the maneuver, calling it “not the way to legislate.”
“I’ve talked to some members about the importance of keeping control of the legislative vehicle and solving the problem on our terms where we focus on solutions, not politics,” Scalise said.
According to Curbelo, his petition would bring four bills forward: one to protect the DACA program, while offering funding for border security; one to boost enforcement against undocumented immigrants, as well as tightening legal immigration numbers; and two more which NPR described as “still poorly defined.”
“[The petition] would be an approach that would rely on mostly Democratic votes and some Republicans to pass their bill,” Scalise said. “And that’s not the way to solve this problem.”