Updated 10:33 p.m. | The farm bill, which failed on the House floor Friday, will get a second vote June 22 after a vote on a conservative immigration bill earlier that week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Monday.
The immigration bill by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas that leaders have scheduled a vote on includes border wall funding, security and enforcement provisions, cuts to legal immigration and a process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients to obtain three-year renewals of their work permits.
“We’re looking at moving the farm bill on June 22 and having the Goodlatte-McCaul bill come up the third week of June,” Scalise told reporters.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who with roughly a dozen members of his conservative caucus sunk the farm bill Friday because they wanted to vote on the immigration bill first, said that the timing Scalise outlined is fine with him so long as the Goodlatte-McCaul bill is brought to the floor under its own rule.
The North Carolina Republican said the reason the Freedom Caucus couldn’t accept GOP leaders’ offer last week to schedule a vote on the Goodlatte-McCaul bill in June is because leadership wanted to appease moderate Republicans like Rep. Jeff Denham who were pushing for a rule that would have tied that measure to a second one still being negotiated.
“There was not an agreement because [leadership] wanted to get with Denham on this whole rule, what it would do, what it wouldn’t do for another thing,” Meadows said. “And that’s why they couldn’t commit to a stand-alone vote on Goodlatte with a stand-alone rule.”
With the Goodlatte-McCaul bill currently short the votes needed to pass the House, Scalise acknowledged that there is still an effort underway to try to come up with another measure that could.
“There’s still talks to see if we can all coalesce around an approach that addresses border security, wall funding, DACA, chain migration in a way that the president can support — a conservative solution to this problem,” the Louisiana Republican said.
What Scalise described is more encompassing, however, than the more narrow solution marrying border security and permanent status for DACA recipients that Denham thinks is more likely to get the requisite number of votes.
Discharge signatures coming
Denham is among a group of moderate Republicans leading a discharge petition on a queen of the hill rule to force votes on four immigration measures. The process would allow the measure with the most votes above the simple majority threshold to prevail, which members of both parties acknowledge will likely to be a measure supported by a majority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans.
House Republican leaders have been negotiating with Denham and other moderates who oppose the Goodlatte-McCaul bill to come up with legislation that they can support and a majority of the Republican Conference can also support.
Despite those talks moving forward, Denham said he has enough Republicans prepared to sign the discharge petition to get to 218 signatures needed to force a vote on the queen of the hill rule. He said he expects to reach the 218 threshold on the petition this week “assuming we don’t have absences.”
Even if the petition gets 218 signatures this week it cannot be called up for a vote until June 25, according to House rules. At press time the petition had 201 signatures.
While Denham said he was always confident of getting 218 signatures on the discharge petition, he noted “there’s a lot more frustration and emotion” because conservatives sunk the farm bill Friday over their own immigration demands.
It’s unclear if any bill Republicans craft on their own can get enough votes to pass the House, but Denham believes a compromise can be reached. He said if that bill moves on a rule along with the Goodlatte-McCaul bill that would cancel out the discharge petition.
For moderates to be on board with an effort to quash the discharge petition the compromise bill they agree to has to move alongside the Goodlatte-McCaul bill, Denham said.
“It all has to be in the same rule, absolutely,” he said.
But Meadows said the Freedom Caucus would never agree to that.
“I can tell you we’re not going to do a combined rule,” he said. “We’re just not. I’ve made that very clear.”
Their differences of opinion create a stalemate that leadership will have to resolve.
Denham has said previously that if leadership were to try to bring up the Goodlatte-McCaul bill without the moderates’ alternative in an effort to kill the discharge petition that he would vote against the rule and other moderates likely would too in an effort to prevent it from being considered.
Meadows said he wants a separate vote on the Goodlatte-McCaul measure with its own rule not tied to any other bill. Combining the two effectively provides people cover to vote against the Goodlatte-McCaul bill since they can subsequently vote for the alternative, he said.
“It’s trickeration,” Meadows said, inventing a new word. “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to sit there and go and say, ‘Ok I’m going to vote for the Goodlatte bill with a rule that allows another bill to come up because I know it’s going down.’”
Although he said he didn’t want to disparage Denham’s tactics, Meadows expressed doubts that moderates would be willing to sink a stand-alone rule on the Goodlatte-McCaul measure unless leadership were to give them a pass to do so.
“I know when I voted against a rule [leadership] threatened to take away all travel, they threatened to take away any [National Republican Congressional Committee] contributions,” Meadows said. “You know most of those people [that signed] the discharge petition are much closer to leadership than members of the Freedom Caucus, so I don’t see them voting against the rule.”
Meadows also predicted leadership would agree to a stand-alone rule and vote on Goodlatte-McCaul. Why?
“Because we all want to pass a farm bill, myself included,” he said. “We’ve made it very clear that we’ve got enough votes to help them get the farm bill across the finish line.”
Watch: Farm Bill Defeat Leads to Confusion on the House Floor