Orignally published by CNN
Republican leaders have held off a coup from moderate lawmakers on immigration — for now.
As Congress departed Washington for a week-long recess Thursday, the threat of an all-out GOP civil war on immigration, which seemed imminent just days ago, was suspended once again.
After a group of moderate Republicans vowed earlier this month to force a vote on a series of immigration bills against leadership’s wishes, members left DC with more signatures, but without the last handful they would need to bypass committee and bring the bills directly to the floor. Instead, members on all sides of the debate are holding out hope that negotiations with Republican leadership could yield a more uniting outcome.
“We’re continuing to move forward as exhibited today with more members signing on, but … we’re trying to allow negotiations to continue to happen. We were very productive and very close yesterday,” said Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican from California who is leading the effort.
As of the Thursday, the discharge petition has 213 signatures of the 218 it needed to automatically trigger a vote next month on a series of immigration bills. Only one Democrat has said he won’t sign the bill and 190 have signed it. If Democrats get 192 of their 193 members to sign it, only three more Republicans arek needed to break 218.
The issue of immigration has long exposed deep-seeded political riffs among House GOP’s rank-and-file members, which is in large part why leaders have worked behind the scenes to whip against the moderate effort to force a vote on issues from border funding to citizenship. Leaders have discouraged members in private meetings from signing on and most recently have worked with conservatives and moderates to negotiate a separate deal that could come to the floor instead.
A source familiar with the negotiations told CNN that lawmakers were still stuck, however, on the question of citizenship and whether conservatives could support a plan that would give recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program a bridge to a green card that they could eventually use to apply for citizenship. Citizenship — among other things — has continued to be a key sticking point for moderates who say they won’t abandon their discharge petition unless they get a vote that includes it.