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GOP Leaders Afraid DACA Petition Will 'Dis-unify Our Majority' Heading Into Midterms

paul ryan at capitol hill news conference

WASHINGTON -- Supporters say they have the necessary votes for a discharge petition to force a vote on a bill to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries from deportation, while House GOP leaders are warning against caucus division heading into midterms.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met with President Trump on Tuesday to discuss the situation and how to proceed.

The discharge petition needs 218 signatures to force a DACA vote. That means 25 Republicans need to support the effort.

If the discharge petition gets enough signatures, the House would vote on four bills. The one with the most support would win and head to the Senate.

GOP backers of the maneuver have included Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), David Valadao (Calif.), Will Hurd (Texas), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Mia Love (Utah), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Fred Upton (Mich.), David Reichert (Wash.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Chris Collins (N.Y.), John Faso (N.Y.), Mark Amodei (Nev.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Ryan Costello (Pa.), and Stephen Knight (Calif.).

Politico reported that McCarthy warned the centrists that forcing a DACA vote could cost the GOP the House majority, reasoning that an upset base wouldn't show up to the polls.

GOP “intensity levels are still not there, and discharge petitions release the power of the floor that the American people gave us the responsibly to hold,” McCarthy said, a source present told the news outlet. “When you release that power, the majority goes to Nancy.”

The bipartisan legislation in the House focuses squarely on DACA and border security other than wall construction. The White House wants DACA with three riders: wall funding, an end to the diversity visa lottery and sharply curtailed family reunification for immigrants.

Ryan has said the House should only vote on legislation that would get Trump's signature, and he maintained that stance in speaking with reporters on Capitol Hill today.

"Obviously, we do not agree with discharge petitions. We think they're a big mistake. They dis-unify our majority," Ryan said. "And our members of our majority fall into different camps, and they want a solution on DACA, and they want a solution on the border and on security issues. We want to accommodate all of that."

"And so, we're working with the administration -- the key is, as I said before, we don't want to advance something that we know won't become law, and just get vetoed, even if it made it to the president's desk. We want to advance something that has a chance of going into law, where the president would support it," he added.

"So that's why we met with the president, to advance a strategy that addresses the issues that our members have, the concerns they have, but doing it in a way where we actually have a process that can get a presidential signature, and not a presidential veto. And we're working with our members on that."