Ryan Rebuffs Aggressive Moderate GOP Effort to Force Vote on DACA Bills

paul ryan at his news conference

WASHINGTON -- Centrist House Republicans are trying to force a vote on a bill to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries from deportation, but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said today he doesn't want to bring a bill that would be vetoed to the floor for a vote.

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

GOP backers as of this evening are 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.).

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.

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.

"We've been clear what our position is. We laid out several months ago what we wanted to see happen," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday. "We'd still like to see that happen, and we'd love to see a piece of legislation that includes all four of the principles and the pillars that the president outlined."

Asked about the DACA effort among moderate GOPs at his press conference today, Ryan said that "we never want to turn the floor over to the minority" or "have a process that just ends up with a veto."

"We actually want to solve the DACA problem... it's clear to us that we're going to have a bill that's going to be bipartisan, but one that the president can support," he said. "So that's what we're working on right now, is what is a bill that deals with DACA and deals with all those security -- other issues that can get some Democrats and get a presidential signature."

"Going down a path and having some kind of a spectacle on the floor that just results in a veto doesn't solve a problem. We actually would like to solve this problem, and that is why I think it's important for us to come up with a solution that the president can support."

Ryan said he would like to see a vote on a DACA bill before midterm elections -- just not the current bipartisan proposals.

"But I want to have a vote on something that can make it into law. I don't want to have, you know, show ponies. I want to have actual law," he added. "And that means the White House has to be a part of this, and it's got to be a bill that the president can sign... if we're going to spend time on the floor, let's spend that precious time on the floor passing legislation that we know can get signed into law."

Curbelo told CNN today that the Republicans on the discharge petition are simply following President Trump's directive, back when he rescinded DACA, for Congress to arrive at a solution.

"Our leadership, regrettably, has spent a long time trying to win the votes within the House Republican conference for legislation that never had the chance to achieve the 218 votes that are necessary here in the House," he said. "So that's why yesterday we kicked off an historic process in the House here, a discharge petition, which is a fairly aggressive legislative maneuver, to try to force a vote, not just on the legislation that I like and that I would like to see, but on other bills as well."

The Florida Republican argued that the maneuver from moderate GOPs "empowers Speaker Ryan because one of the slots that we have reserved in this process we've outlined is for the speaker himself to draft a bill."

"He can do it in conjunction with the White House and try to win the votes of a majority of members of the House. So the speaker is actually empowered by this process, but certainly the message from the 17 House Republicans that so far have signed the discharge petition is that we want action, that the president was right to call on Congress to act and that we find it unacceptable that many months later the House has done absolutely nothing," Curbelo said.

"So our patience has run out. We know there are a lot of young people who are living in fear in this country. We know there are a lot of Americans who want to see progress on border security, on stronger immigration laws. All of those issues should be debated on the floor of the U.S. House."