Speaker Paul D. Ryan acknowledged on Thursday that he’s not sure if House Republicans can pass any immigration bill, even as the chamber was poised to begin voting on two such measures.
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” the Wisconsin Republican said when asked if there’s any legislative solution on immigration that could unify the GOP conference, which is divided on many issues but particularly immigration.
Ryan pointed to the two bills the House will vote on Thursday — a measure conservatives favor and one negotiated by various factions that moderates favor — as a way to answer the question.
Both bills are widely expected to fail, but Ryan wouldn’t directly say that.
The fact that leadership is moving forward with votes on the bills they know are likely to fail rather than to continue working to build support suggests they’re not confident they would be able to refine either measure to a passable product.
Watch: Ryan Says He Doesn’t Know If an Immigration Bill Can Pass
“At the end of the day I really believe — if a bill isn’t passed today — we’re going to come back to the president’s four pillars,” he said. Those pillars are a solution for those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program; funding for a border wall, and curtailing family-based and the diversity lottery immigration programs.
Regardless of whether the GOP bills pass, Ryan said he believes the ideas they’re putting forward in their legislation could serve as the basis of a future deal.
“These are good ideas that are ultimately going to show a way forward,” he said.