House GOP leaders struggle to push immigration bill

Associated Press


As badly as things have gone for immigration legislation in the Senate, it’s not looking any easier in the more conservative House.

Republican leaders there are scrambling to find enough GOP votes to pass a measure that’s even more restrictive than a proposal by President Donald Trump that flopped spectacularly in the Senate on Thursday. Compounding those divisions are pressures from some of the House’s most conservative members, who are casting the effort as a pivotal test for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“It is the defining moment for this speaker,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. who leads the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, which helped force former Speaker John Boehner from his job in 2015. “If he gets it wrong, it will have consequences for him but it will also have consequences for the rest of the Republican Party.”

Ryan aides did not respond to a request for comment on Meadows’ remark. But underscoring party rifts, some Republicans defended the speaker and his work on the issue.

“Any time you allow one member or a small group of members to dictate overall policy for the country, it is an unfair scenario,” Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., who’s opposing the conservative legislation, said Friday. “I just don’t think our speaker’s going to give into any type of threats.”

Even if House leaders manage to push the measure through their chamber, it would be dead on arrival in the closely divided Senate. Democrats there could ensure its demise because any immigration measure would need 60 votes to survive, meaning bipartisan agreement is mandatory.

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