Frustrated by Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s refusal to put immigration proposals to a House vote, a band of moderate House Republicans is using an obscure rule to force GOP leaders’ hands. If 218 lawmakers sign on to the moderates’ discharge petition, they can make the House vote on a set of immigration reform proposals — including a bill to enact into law the Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents.
Most discharge efforts fail. So the odds are heavily stacked against the renegades.

The speaker has refused bring a bill to the floor and is seeking to undermine the discharge petition on the grounds that President Trump won’t sign the legislation. Ryan, remember, is not an official White House staffer. His job is to lead not just the Republican majority, but the entire House of Representatives. Unfortunately, he is neither leading the people’s House nor is he protecting the integrity of an equal branch of government. He acts as Trump’s errand boy — leaving House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) to sow chaos in the oversight system and to smear the FBI, blocking bipartisan immigration proposals and shrugging helplessly when the president spews his ugly rhetoric.

In this case, Ryan’s obsequiousness is telling insofar as the discharge petition presents four options — none of which Trump wants put up for a vote. From The Post:

Trump’s favored proposal — a bill sponsored by [Rep.] Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that would match limited DACA protections with beefed-up border security and cuts to legal immigration — would take the first slot. A bill to that would enact DACA into law, sponsored by [Rep.] Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), would take the second. A third vote would be reserved for a proposal from Ryan, and the final vote saved for a proposal from the GOP moderates, most likely for a plan that would legalize DACA and bolster border security.”

Under the discharge rules, the one that gets the most votes would pass.

Why would Trump not want a vote on his favored proposal? Well, it has very little support and would reveal his solution to be untenable. It would force the White House to concede that it refuses to embrace any measure that might actually pass.

By canceling DACA, Trump is attempting to endear himself to his shrinking base of vengeance-fueled white people, says Post columnist Jennifer Rubin. (Adriana Usero, Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)

Moderate Republicans are likely panic-stricken as they head toward November. The party’s positions on guns, immigration, climate change and more will not fly in their districts. Unless Republicans can show their more moderate views can prevail, their constituents will have to vote Democrat if they want reasonable gun laws, a DACA solution, policies to address climate change, etc. A failed discharge petition would underscore the argument of many Democratic challengers: It doesn’t matter how sane your representative is; his party’s leadership is unhinged and unresponsive to your concerns. 

In this case, Ryan and the rest of the anti-immigration-solutions crowd find themselves on the opposite side from a key segment of its donor base — big business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement exhorting the House to pass a DACA fix: “It is long past time to protect the Dreamers and secure our border. Bipartisan solutions exist and our elected leaders need to pursue them. That is why we applaud those members who are adding their names to the ongoing effort to start legislative debate in the U.S. House. We look forward to working with Congressional leaders and other members on the most effective way to achieve real results for Dreamers and to secure our border.”

Perhaps the Chamber and other business groups should consider turning off the spigot of campaign cash. A party that runs up huge deficits, panders in xenophobia, practices protectionism and delights in international chaos is working against their interests.