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Moderate Republicans suffer a 'staggering loss' on immigration

A sizable group of House Republicans launched an audacious initiative to pass a bipartisan immigration bill. It didn't work.
Image: House GOP Pulls Vote On Trump's American Health Care Act
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) arrives to a private meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill, March 24, 2017 in...

A sizable group of House Republicans launched an audacious initiative in early May, introducing a discharge petition on immigration reform. And while discharge petitions nearly always fail, this one had a real chance at success.

That is, until yesterday. Politico  reported overnight:

House Republicans will vote next week on two bills addressing the plight of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who face possible deportation, circumventing an intra-party war over immigration and delivering a major blow to moderate Republicans.The floor votes will effectively stop the effort by moderate Republicans in tandem with Democrats to force a vote on their immigration plans through a so-called discharge petition.... The development effectively kills the discharge petition campaign, a staggering loss for moderates seeking to pass legislation protecting Dreamers.

The more moderate GOP members needed to get 218 signatures to force a bipartisan reform package onto the floor, which would have protected Dreamers and codified the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into law.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was reportedly "desperate" to avoid a vote on bipartisan immigration legislation, and his leadership team successfully persuaded just enough Republicans not to sign the discharge petition.

Yesterday afternoon, the moderates ended up with 216 signatures, not 218.

As a result, the House will have two votes on immigration measures next week -- one far-right plan written by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and another that's still a work in progress -- though as Politico's report added, "Neither is expected to pass, according to Republicans in all camps."

So, who wins and who loses here?

It's clearly a loss for the more moderate Republican members -- many of whom saw this as an opportunity to give their struggling campaigns a major boost -- who'll apparently end up with nothing to show for their efforts. More importantly, it's the latest setback for Dreamers themselves.

Ryan and House GOP leaders, on the other hand, are likely breathing a sigh of relief. The last thing they wanted is for their conference to go through a divisive fight in an election year over an issue on which Republicans are at odds with the American mainstream.

The list of failed discharge-petition campaigns, meanwhile, just got a little longer.