Success for a legislative end-run around congressional leaders that is gaining steam would be tantamount to giving House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) the speaker’s gavel, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday.
So far, 20 Republican representatives have signed the so-called discharge petition that would force a vote on legislation granting amnesty to illegal immigrants brought to America as children. Assuming all Democrats sign the petition, only five more Republicans would be needed to take control of the calendar away from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and McCarthy.
“Once you sign a discharge petition, we have no power. That means all the power is then turned over to the Democrats,” McCarthy said on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
Pelosi reacted with glee at the prospect of protecting the “dreamers,” a nickname given to would-be amnesty beneficiaries, named for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
“We have a path,” she said Wednesday at a news conference. “Get it done. The sooner the better.”
McCarthy, viewed by many political observers as the most likely successor to the retiring Ryan, said the effort is a transparent attempt to embarrass the Republican leadership.
“Why would we want to have Nancy in charge?” he asked. “If you watched that clip of her, she couldn’t be more excited. She’s not using this to to make law. She’s using this to try embarrass people … into a debate that you would not have the security of the border involved in this process.”
McCarthy said legislation should emerge from a deliberative process that includes hearings and committee work. He backed a bill sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that could give a limited amnesty to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — but no path to citizenship — in exchange for a host of border security measures and reforms to the legal immigration system.
Passing amnesty without those measures would guarantee another crisis, McCarthy said.
“If you want to solve the DACA issue, you’re gonna have to do something about catch-and-release,” he said. “You’re gonna have to do something about border security. Otherwise, you’re back at the same exact problem we had earlier.”
McCarthy expressed frustration that Democrats have shown no willingness to compromise.
“The real difficulty here is that the Democrats have said they don’t want to do anything,” he said.
McCarthy said a roundtable event he attended at the White House with local elected and law enforcement officials from California on Wednesday shows that Republicans do not have to write off the Golden State.
McCarthy said Republicans should run on two main issues this year — repealing a 12-cent gas tax passed under outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown and immigration.
“Those issues that you just brought up — going after the gang members, MS-13, Kate’s Law — those are all the issues that we have passed in this House sitting over in the Senate,” he said. “I think they could be very big campaign [issues] going forward, and I’d like to see [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Gavin Newsom debate this.”
The same goes for the GOP’s efforts to maintain control of the House in the upcoming midterms, McCarthy said. He said the House would look quite different under a Pelosi speakership.
“She first would want to raise your taxes, impeach the president and probably just open the borders up greater, you know?” he said. “This is what she’s gonna look to in the process. And it’s not me saying it; it’s what she’s saying.”