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GOP Warns Ryan Over Immigration Bill   05/22 06:18

   Leaders of warring House Republican factions searched for an immigration 
compromise as some conservatives warned of consequences for Speaker Paul Ryan 
if he allowed party moderates to push a bipartisan bill through the chamber 
without strong GOP support.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Leaders of warring House Republican factions searched for 
an immigration compromise as some conservatives warned of consequences for 
Speaker Paul Ryan if he allowed party moderates to push a bipartisan bill 
through the chamber without strong GOP support.

   The talks Monday occurred as centrist Republicans remained five GOP 
signatures away from being able to force party leaders to hold votes on a 
series of immigration bills. Should they succeed, it would launch a process in 
which the likely outcome seemed to be passage of a middle-ground measure backed 
by a handful of Republicans and all Democrats. Ryan has said he will avert that 
outcome, though it's unclear how, and many conservatives consider it 
intolerable.

   Conservative and moderate GOP leaders negotiated privately over ways to win 
centrist support for a conservative-backed measure that for months has 
floundered short of the 218 Republican votes it would need for House passage. 
They discussed changes that would help young "Dreamer" immigrants brought to 
the U.S. illegally as children and immigrant farm workers stay longer in the 
U.S., said one lawmaker who described the private discussions on condition of 
anonymity.

   The effort to find GOP unity seemed uphill on an issue that has divided the 
party for years. But the alternative seemed unpalatable for many Republicans, 
who fear that the centrists' effort will force GOP lawmakers to take divisive 
election-year votes unless leaders figure out how to head them off.

   The conservative bill would currently reduce legal immigration, clear the 
way for construction of President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico and 
let Dreamers stay in the U.S. for renewable three-year periods. All Democrats 
oppose the measure and it would have no chance of clearing the more moderate 
Senate.

   Monday's negotiations came three days after bitter Republican divisions over 
immigration caused an unrelated farm bill to crash. Members of the hard-right 
House Freedom Caucus helped caused the agriculture measure's defeat after 
refusing a leadership offer for a vote on the conservative immigration bill in 
June, which they said was too late.

   Some members of the Freedom Caucus suggested it would be time for Ryan to 
step down should moderates prevail.

   Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., said it would cause "a lot more disgruntlement" if 
the moderates prevail, adding, "People in my district want him to go, now."

   "If we run an amnesty bill out of a Republican House, I think all options 
are on the table," said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a member of the group, when 
asked if Ryan should remain as speaker if the moderates' effort succeeds.

   Ryan is not seeking re-election to the House but has repeatedly said he will 
serve the rest of this year as speaker. Many conservatives say legislation 
protecting immigrants in the U.S. illegally from deportation is amnesty.

   Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the Freedom Caucus leader, said he does not think 
Ryan should vacate his post if the moderates succeed. But he said House passage 
of a middle-ground measure would have a "devastating effect" on the GOP because 
it would "depress anybody who feels like the Republican Party needs to be 
strong on immigration."

   Other Republicans said it seemed unlikely Ryan would abandon his post. They 
said others --- including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., seen as the 
likeliest successor --- so far lack the GOP votes they'd need to win the job.

   Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., a Freedom Caucus member, said Ryan has made good on 
his word to conservatives not to bring up an immigration bill unless it had 
support from most Republicans. "We just want him to hold true," Brat said.

   "It's best for stability" for Ryan to stay, said moderate Rep. Ryan 
Costello, R-Pa.

   The moderates need 218 signatures --- a House majority --- on a petition to 
force votes on immigration bills, a rarely used procedure.

   With all 193 Democrats expected to sign, the moderates need five more than 
the 20 signatures they already have. If they succeed, a vote could occur no 
earlier than late June.


(KA)

 
 
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