The latest fight over immigration policy appeared to reach its end point in March. Congressional Democrats offered Donald Trump at least six bipartisan compromises on the issue, including a package that would've funded his beloved border-wall proposal, but the president rejected each of them, insisting he needed both wall funding and drastic cuts to legal immigration.
But last week, a group of House Republicans shook up the debate in an unexpected way, unveiling a discharge petition -- in defiance of congressional GOP leaders and the White House -- that would force floor votes on a variety of measures, including bipartisan protections for Dreamers.
At first, the gambit looks like little more than theater. After all, discharge petitions almost always fail, and this one would need 25 House Republican votes, along with all the House Democrats. That's an unrealistic goal, right?
Perhaps not. This week, the measure received its 19th and 20th signatories from GOP members, and as a result, as the Washington Post reported, the party's leaders are suddenly scrambling.
House Republican leaders made a full-court press Wednesday to forestall a GOP immigration rebellion that they fear could derail their legislative agenda and throw their effort to hold the majority in doubt.
The effort began in a closed-door morning meeting where Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that a freewheeling immigration debate could have sharp political consequences. It continued in the evening, when the leaders of a petition effort that would sidestep were summoned to a room with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), McCarthy and three other top leaders.
At this point, the party doesn't appear to have a specific solution. Republican leaders, when they're not pleading with their colleagues not to sign the discharge petition, are exploring alternative measures to offer their rebelling members, even as some rank-and-file GOP lawmakers say they might derail the House's farm bill unless they get their way on immigration.
But what struck me as especially significant was the nature of the pitch House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made to his conference during the weekly meeting yesterday. Politico reported: