There is no guarantee that a compromise immigration bill House Republicans are finalizing for floor consideration next week will pass, Speaker Paul D. Ryan acknowledged Thursday.
“I’m not going to predict what the whip’s going to be,” he said when asked whether he’d bring the bill to the floor if the whip count comes up short or continue working to get more votes for it.
“We won’t guarantee passage,” Ryan added. “We don’t know the answer.”
The compromise bill is designed to pass, as opposed to a conservative measure from House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte the House is also planning to vote on that is expected to fail. But some GOP members have concerns about proposals they’ve heard will be in the bill, which is still being finalized and drafted into legislative text.
“I do hope this passes,” Ryan said of the compromise measure. “I think this is a very good bill. I think this is a very good compromise.”
The bill is expected to create a visa for young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers, as well as other young immigrants who are here legally but on more temporary permits. The new visa, which would provide a path to legal status and eventually citizenship, won’t add to overall number of visas because the bill would cut diversity and family-based visas.
It is expected to authorize the full $25 billion President Donald Trump has requested to build a wall along the Southern border.
“Everything we’ve heard has been very negative,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said when asked whether Democrats might support it.
The California Democrat said it’s not clear the bill will even have enough Republican votes to pass.
The bill is expected to include a provision to allow children to be kept with their parents when detained at the border. Ryan said he’s not comfortable with the Trump administration policy of separating children from their parents, which he blamed on a court ruling that he said should be fixed with legislation.
Watch: Ryan Says Policy Separating Families at Border Will ‘Require Legislative Change’
Pelosi, however, said the Trump administration could and should lift the policy. The attorney general can change the policy “just like that,” she said as she snapped her fingers.
“This was an act of the administration,” Pelosi said. “They had been planning this for a while. … This is barbaric. This is not what America is, but this is the policy of the Trump administration.”
“I don’t see any prospect for legislation here,” she added.
Pelosi said the inclusion of a legislative fix for the separation policy in Republicans’ immigration legislation won’t provide Democrats a reason to support it.
“They’re certainly [not] going to use mothers nursing their babies as a draw,” she said.
Ryan said he believes the bill has a chance of becoming law, as opposed to legislation that would have been produced under the “queen of the hill” rule that moderate Republicans were trying to discharge to the floor. That process would have triggered votes on four immigration bills, with the one getting the most votes above a majority prevailing. Legislation that would’ve emerged under such a scenario would have likely been supported primarily by Democrats a few dozen moderate Republicans.
“The last thing we want to do is have some kind of exercise in futility,” Ryan said of the discharge petition.
A vote on the Goodlatte bill will kill the discharge petition since that’s the vehicle the queen of the hill rule was attached to for the purposes of discharging it.