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Exclusive: Pressure grows on Paul Ryan to commit to immigration debate

A group of lawmakers of both parties is putting increasing pressure on House Speaker Paul Ryan to make a commitment t...

Posted: Feb. 8, 2018 8:02 AM
Updated: Feb. 8, 2018 8:02 AM

A group of lawmakers of both parties is putting increasing pressure on House Speaker Paul Ryan to make a commitment to bring immigration legislation to the floor and allow an open debate like the Senate.

In a letter shared first with CNN, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is writing to Ryan on Wednesday to request that he not only make a clear commitment to call to the floor a bill that would resolve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that the President is ending -- they ask that he also commit to an open process that would not tip the scales for one party.

"Specifically, we seek your commitment that the House will debate and vote on all serious and substantive proposals, particularly those offered on a bipartisan basis, as well as any bill approved by the full Senate," wrote Reps. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, and Peter Welch, D-Vermont. "A 'Queen of the Hill' rule should be employed that establishes the proposal receiving the most votes as the position of the House."

The group is made up of 48 members of the House, split evenly by party. Ryan has said he will observe the so-called "Hastert Rule" of not calling any legislation that does not have the support of a majority of Republicans. Some stalled immigration proposals could likely pass the House, but with a majority of Democratic votes and fewer Republican votes.

The call echoes a request from Pelosi on the House floor on Wednesday that Ryan make the same type of commitment his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell did to hold a neutral immigration debate. She wants that before voting on a government funding deal.

"Speaker Ryan has already repeatedly stated we intend to do a DACA and immigration reform bill -- one that the President supports," spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement responding to Pelosi.

Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, also a member of the Problem Solvers, told CNN he'd be "uncomfortable" supporting the budget deal without that commitment -- and that willingness to work on the issue is not enough.

"Work on immigration is one thing, we've been working on immigration for a long time," Curbelo said. "A commitment to take legislation to the floor is what I'm looking for. ... Even though I think there's an intention to take up the issue, I want that intention to be clearly and unequivocally expressed."

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