The Republicans are using what’s known on Capitol Hill as a discharge petition, which is a way for lawmakers to force bills to the floor over the objections of the majority party’s leaders, who traditionally control the floor schedule.
To succeed, the rebel Republicans — led by Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida and joined by Reps. Jeff Denham, David Valadao, Will Hurd and Mario Diaz-Balart — will need to get signatures from a majority of House members.
The move appears to represent a real threat to GOP leaders, who had said they wanted to wait for the Senate to take action on immigration first.
Though only the five Republicans had signed onto the petition as of Wednesday morning, nearly 250 House members — easily a majority — had signed on as cosponsors to a blueprint for debating Dreamer protections.
Immigrant-rights activists cheered the move.
“This discharge petition should not have been necessary, but it is a positive step,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum.
The petition would allow votes on four different plans involving Dreamers. One would be an enforcement-first bill from conservatives that would keep the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty running, while making major changes to crack down on sanctuary cities and give the government faster deportation powers.
Another plan would be a “clean” bill dubbed the Dream Act, which would grant citizenship rights to millions of illegal immigrants. A third plan would be a Dream Act combined with a vow of future border security, and a fourth plan would be whatever HouseGOP leaders wanted....Under the rules the discharge petition laid out, whichever of the four plans gets the most votes would emerge.The Senate held its own immigration debate earlier this year but stalemated, with no plans crossing the 60-vote threshold.