House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi weighed in Wednesday on the ongoing attempt by pro-amnesty Republicans to join with Democrats and force a vote on legalizing millions of illegal aliens.
Depending on the unity of the Democratic caucus, between 25 and 30 Republicans are needed to force the vote over the stated opposition of the GOP House leadership, including outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in a parliamentary maneuver known as a “discharge petition.” As Pelosi sees it, there are enough pro-amnesty Republicans to accomplish this. The only thing holding some Republicans back from capitulation is a desire for Ryan to appear like he is still in control by introducing the amnesty himself.
“They’re close to the number, [and] the prediction is that they will get the number,” Pelosi said at a Capitol press briefing, according to the Hill. “But in order to save face for the Speaker, [they want to] let him have it his discretion to bring it up.”
Despite polls repeatedly showing that immigration will be Republican voters’ number one issue going into November’s midterm elections, at least 20 GOP Congressmen, led by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), are determined to help Democrats pass amnesty before those votes. The amnesty in question would be the largest in American history, legalizing not only the approximately 800,000 illegals once covered by President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but around two million more similarly situated so-called “Dreamers.”
So far, Speaker Ryan and the rest of the House GOP leadership have whipped their members to oppose this petition, but Ryan himself has continued to signal his willingness to pursue amnesty. As the Hill reported Wednesday, shortly before Pelosi’s remarks:
“Obviously, we do not agree with discharge petitions. We think they are a mistake. They disunify our majority,” Ryan told reporters during his weekly press conference. “There are members of our majority [who] fall into different camps, and they want a solution on [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], and they want a solution on the border and the security issues, so we want to accommodate all of that.”
“We don’t want to advance something that 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 that the president supports. That’s why we met with the president [yesterday].”
With her remarks about Ryan “saving face,” Pelosi is playing up the appearance that the soon-to-depart Ryan is actually using the pro-amnesty revolt as an excuse to allow him to introduce amnesty through the normal legislative process. CNN’s John King recognized this long-running disconnect between elements of the congressional GOP and their populist-nationalist base when he told viewers Wednesday, “[T]here are actually enough House Republicans who would actually like to vote. … However, they will only do that if they think the Breitbarts and the Fox Newses are gonna somehow be in a nap and not notice them doing it.”
Unlike many of his colleagues, however, Speaker Ryan will not face reelection in November, having announced his retirement in April. This allows him considerably more leeway than his two top lieutenants in the leadership, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). The former is the top candidate to replace Ryan as Speaker should the GOP keep the House in November, and he is under substantial pressure to stop the pro-amnesty revolt from undermining his leadership’s authority.