By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Paul Ryan mocked an effort by breakaway Republicans to force election-year votes on rival immigration proposals as a drive that would produce “show ponies,” not legislation the president would sign into law.
Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday that since he’s been unable to craft an immigration bill that could pass with GOP votes alone, the path to success requires legislation that gets support from both parties and White House. Such a bill would have to protect young “Dreamer” immigrants from deportation and bolster border security, he said.
“I don’t want to have show ponies. I want to have actual law. And that means the White House has to be a part of this,” Ryan said.
But party leaders have so far failed to find a measure that can pass Congress, with the Senate rejecting several proposals earlier this year, including one backed strongly by Trump. “That speaks to just how tough this issue is,” Ryan told reporters.
Ryan said he hopes to hold a vote on immigration before the November elections in which GOP control of the House and possibly the Senate are in play.
A group of House Republicans remained shy of their goal of collecting enough signatures on a petition to force a vote on four immigration bills. Those Republicans, who have moderate views on the issue, could force GOP leaders to hold a vote on their plan if they gather at least 218 signatures, a majority of the chamber’s membership.
The maverick Republicans want to allow votes on a hard-right immigration bill, a liberal one, a bipartisan compromise and any immigration bill of Ryan’s choosing. Under their plan, the measure that passes with the most votes would prevail.
GOP leaders say that process means they’d effectively lose control of the House’s agenda, a crucial power of the chamber’s majority party.
“Going down a path and having some kind of spectacle on the floor that just results in a veto doesn’t solve the problem,” Ryan said.
So far 18 Republicans have signed the petition to force votes. If all 193 Democrats eventually sign on as expected, the maverick group would need 25 GOP signatures to succeed.
Trump’s view on immigration is ever-shifting and hard to discern.
He has ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA; urged Congress to protect from deportation the young immigrants the program has temporarily shielded; and turned down deals to do so that would have also supplied money to build his proposed wall with Mexico.