Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan is using the “discharge petition” process to decisively split from President Donald Trump’s election-winning, pro-American immigration policies.
Ryan’s disguised break from Trump leaves his successor, Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in the hot seat, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. McCarthy must quickly decide whether to block or support Ryan’s unpopular push before it wrecks GOP turnout in November, she said.
McCarthy “wants to be Speaker, so he can’t tick off too many people,” she said.
Ryan exposed his strategy against Trump during his Thursday press conference, when he was asked how he was dealing with the “discharge petition” push being used by 17 business-first GOP legislators to force an amnesty bill through the House.
If the 17 GOP members can collect a total of 25 GOP signatures on their discharge petition, then 193 Democrats will join them to get the 218 signatures needed to stage a floor vote, despite leadership opposition. Their planned floor vote will be a rare “Queen of the Hill” debate around four bills. That plan will allow business-first GOP legislators to unite behind an amnesty bill that will pass with support from 193 Democrats — and also split their votes to ensure the failure of pro-American immigration bills.
When asked about this petition threat to the GOP and Trump coalitions, Ryan did not threaten the GOP signatories with a loss of election funding, nor did he criticize them for endangering the GOP majority in November.
Instead, Ryan said he is trying to pass a bill that includes a ‘DACA’ amnesty plus some form of border security:
We want to fix this DACA problem, we want certainty, and we have a border security problem that needs to be addressed. These should not be mutually exclusive goals.
Ryan’s two-part agenda specifically excludes two of the four-part, pro-American immigration reforms pushed by Trump — ending chain-migration and ending the visa lottery. Those two reforms are vital to prevent a flood of low-skill chain-migrants lowering Americans’ wages and extending the Democrats’ demographic chokehold outside California, New Jersey, New York and Illinois.
“These four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first,” Trump declared in his 2018 State of the Union speech as Democratic legislators sat in cold silence, some with their arms crossed. He said his plan:
should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise — one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.
Ryan’s tepid endorsement of “border security” also hides his rejection of Trump’s border security plan.
Trump’s plan would tighten security rules at the border, build a wall, enforce the law in Democrats’ “sanctuary cities” and deter illegal hiring by GOP-aligned business.
But Ryan’s record shows he supports border security which blocks illegals and also delivers an endless supply of legal wage-flattening immigrant labor to GOP-aligned companies, said Vaughan. Ryan “would be fine with fencing off the border, providing there are huge open gates at the border … with a conveyer belt [of immigrant workers] and a blinking vacancy sign,” she said.
In 2014 and 2016, Ryan said the dairy industry in his district needs an everlasting supply of cheap workers. That policy keeps the U.S. dairy industry dependent on imported labor — and so falling further behind dairies in Europe, Japan, and South America which are using cow-milking robots to cut their labor costs and preserve family farms.
Even as Ryan endorsed only one-and-a-half of Trump’s four immigration goals, Ryan repeatedly said that he wants Trump to accept the House’s mini-bill. “It is clear to us that we’re going to have to have a bill that is going to be bipartisan but one that the President could support,” Ryan said.
In recent week, Ryan has also ignored the compromise immigration measured developed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, which implements nearly all of Trump’s goals.
Goodlatte’s bill ends the visa lottery, ends chain-migration, supports the wall, and deters illegal immigration. It buys business support with huge annual infusions of white-collar workers, nurses and agricultural guest-workers. “The compromise bill is the Goodlatte bill,” Rep. Dave Brat told Breitbart News May 10.
Ryan should be whipping reluctant GOP legislators to back the Goodlatte bill, Brat said. “It is called ‘whip’ for a reason – [and] we want leadership to whip and push for the Goodlatte bill … That is rational policy.”
Ryan’s actions, said Vaughan, suggests he quietly supports the anti-Trump discharge petition. “He’s playing the good cop while letting his friends to play the bad cop,” she said.
Those friends include two signers of the petition, N.Y. Rep. Elise Stefanik and Utah Rep. Mia Love, who argues that the discharge petition should take power away from Trump.
Ryan’s good cop/bad cop strategy is clever, Vaughan added, because his open support would likely kill the discharge-petition strategy. Ryan’s endorsement would be toxic to the voters and legislators who back Trump’s pro-Americans policies, she said.
During the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill in 2013 and 2014, Ryan hid his support for the huge amnesty-and-cheap-labor bill. In June 2014, Ryan was about to announce his amnesty plan but pulled it after the shocking primary defeat of his pro-amnesty ally, House Majority Leader, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor. That defeat opened a path for Trump to the White House.
In 2018, immigration remains the top priority for the GOP’s base and for many swing voters. Numerous polls show that voters say they like immigrants and immigration, but also are determined to vote for politicians who ensure that immigration rules do not block their children and neighbors from finding good jobs in a fast-changing, high-tech, high-cost economy. That pro-American emphasis in the voting booth helps explain why Trump’s ratings among Latinos and blacks have proved far higher than predicted by business-tied pollsters.
Trump’s wage-boosting immigration policies are anathema to the GOP’s business-first wing who joined with Democrats to block Trump’s popular reforms in February.
Business groups have made clear they want a huge new influx of wage-lowering workers to compete against blue-collar and white-collar Americans for jobs. The extra workers would reduce the growing marketplace pressure that is raising voters’ wages and boosting Trump’s poll ratings before the November election — and before the 2020 election.
“Thousands of American businesses have faced the uncertainty of disruptions in the workforce and the loss of valuable talent because Congress has failed to act,” said a May 10 statement from a business coalition endorsing the discharge petition. “House action is long overdue.”
The DACA amnesty is also backed by FWD.us, a lobbying group formed by Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow investors in Silicon Valley. The group provides support and funding to allies, likely including Rep. Ryan Costello who has signed the petition.
Ryan is slated to retire by January, leaving him the freedom to alienate Trump and the GOP’s voters before his exit, Vaughan said. “That’s the thing – there is nothing more dangerous than a lame duck in Congress, particularly if it is the Speaker.”