·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

Republican Leadership Under Siege as Immigration Votes Approach

— May 23, 2018

House Republicans are reportedly in disarray as moderate conservatives seek to force voting on immigration and the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Republican leader and House Speaker Paul Ryan ‘pleaded with his conference Tuesday,’ writes POLITICO, attempting to garner a compromise between moderates and members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus. But his pleas for unity may go unheeded as representatives defy their leadership to forward constituent interests.

According to, ‘moderates frustrated with the lack of action to protect Dreamers from deportation’ are expected to collect enough votes to discharge a series of immigration votes on the House floor. While liberals have largely been in favor of protecting DACA’s former beneficiaries from the long arm of the law, not all conservatives are on board.

Asked whether Ryan’s job could be in jeopardy if lawmakers elect to defend Dreamers, the Freedom Caucus kept cautious.

“If we run an amnesty bill out of a Republican House I think all options are on the table,” said Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry (R-PA) on Monday.

Protest in support of DACA (against its rescission) at Trump Tower in New York City; photo by Rhododendrites (Own work), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.
Protest in support of DACA (against its rescission) at Trump Tower in New York City last summer. Many conservative legislators with heavy Hispanic constituencies feel the pressure to ensure that Dreamers — all of whom immigrated to the United States illegally as children and many of whom can’t remember any life away from America — are safe from deportation; photo by Rhododendrites (Own work), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.

“If the leadership doesn’t stop it,” said Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), “they would be violating their own word, the Hastert rule, majority of the majority.”

Brat, writes POLITICO, was referring to an unofficial Republican Party policy – that votes won’t be held on maters not backed by at least half the GOP’s assembly. Several conservative lawmakers suggest heavy repercussions for defectors, including cutting campaign funding from the National Republican Congressional Committee and withholding other assorted benefits.

“I know when I voted against a rule, [leadership] threatened to take away all travel, they threatened to take away NRCC contributions,” said Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC). “Most of those people who are on the discharge petition are very much closer to leadership than members of the Freedom Caucus, so I don’t see them” defying leadership.

Another legislator, who spoke to POLITICO anonymously, complained of the lack of consequence for discharge petition signatories.

“They’re undermining the leadership’s ability to govern,” said the lawmaker, wondering why members of the whip team in favor of the discharge petition haven’t been threatened with funding cuts.

POLITICO writes that House Speaker Paul Ryan is in an impossible situation – facing pressure from moderate representatives up for reelection as well as a hostile Freedom Caucus demanding that he stop the discharge petition from reaching the chamber floor.

Ryan himself has voiced opposition to the House formally reinstating DACA. Conservatives who back the discharge petition, says Ryan, are effectively handing over the reins to Democrats. He, along with President Trump, have demanded that any change be codified through legislature rather than handled through federal bureaucracy.

Even if Ryan is under siege from all sides, his supporters have said most Republicans won’t trying undermining his position as speaker.

“It seems there is always a segment of our conference that has a problem with leadership no matter what, and you have to ask: Is it really related to policy, and issues like immigration?” said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL). “Or is more related to their own personal ambitions to get into leadership someday?”


DACA’s March 5 ‘deadline’ marks only inaction

Immigration showdown puts Ryan’s job in peril

Republicans move to force DACA vote in defiance of Ryan

Ryan rejects effort to force DACA vote

Some moderate Republicans are trying to force a House vote on DACA. Here’s what that means.

Join the conversation!