UPDATE | House GOP in 11th-hour bid for immigration accord
WASHINGTON (AP) — Divided on immigration, House Republicans are huddling privately as leaders try pushing them toward consensus on the issue, racing the clock and trying to defuse a civil war within the party that threatens their effort to keep control of the chamber in November’s elections.
But even as they gathered in a Capitol basement meeting room, there were no indications that a deal mending the party’s chasm over immigration was at hand and no definitive details of where middle ground might be. If leaders fail to find a solution, that would give momentum to moderates seeking to stage election-year votes in just three weeks on the issue, a showdown that leaders want to head off.
Both conservative and moderate lawmakers, the two factions at odds over the issue, said they didn’t know what to expect as they entered the session.
“I don’t know. That’s why I’m on time here, for once,” joked Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., a moderate who’s joined the leadership-opposed rebellion aimed at forcing immigration votes.
GOP lawmakers emerged from the office of Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Wednesday saying he would present the rank and file with broad ideas for resolving a dispute that has split Republicans for years, damaging the party with Hispanic and moderate voters.
“There’s some loose consensus right now,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., a leader of centrists threatening to force votes if they can’t strike a deal with conservatives. He said leaders would unveil “an outline of a potential bill,” while conservative leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said Ryan would present “concepts.”
Curbelo, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and other moderates need just two more GOP signatures on a petition to require immigration votes, assuming all Democrats sign on. If Thursday’s meeting doesn’t produce an accord, the moderates could reach that threshold quickly.
The major hang-up in GOP talks has been how, as the moderates have demanded, to offer a chance for citizenship to young “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Conservatives have opposed creating a special pathway for them to become citizens, calling it amnesty.
“We’ve got the rule of law in this country, and nobody gets special consideration,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.