House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Democrats will try to use a discharge petition to start debate on their so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” bill after the congressional recess ends on March 24. However, Hoyer admitted they likely won’t get enough Republican signatures on the petition to force a floor debate.
Under House rules, a majority of the House (218 Members) can force floor consideration on a bill by signing discharge petition. Democrats first started talking about using a discharge petition last summer but never followed up because the Senate-passed comprehensive amnesty bill (S. 744) has never been transmitted to the House.
The latest plans involve H.R. 15, which contains all provisions in the Senate-passed bill except with respect to border security. In that area, the bill is less enforcement-oriented than S. 744.
In a press conference yesterday, Hoyer said, "If you go out and say you are for immigration reform and then you don't sign the discharge petition, you are not doing something that will effect the policy being enacted that you say you are for."
Hoyer admitted the discharge petition isn’t likely to win over enough Republicans to force a floor vote, but said the effort has a purpose. “The probability is we won’t get the discharge petition,” Hoyer said. “But it is a vehicle for people to look at and say, ‘Look, either sign the discharge petition or get your leadership to bring [immigration legislation] to the floor.”
The prospects for moving immigration legislation in the House remain bleak, discharge petition notwithstanding. Sen. Jeff Session, R-Ala., said the president’s call for a review of executive amnesty options proves Obama can’t be trusted to enforce any immigration law Congress might pass. And leading House Republican amnesty advocate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., recently admitted his leadership doesn’t have enough support to move forward based on their immigration principles. “We don’t have the votes right now,” Ryan told his local newspaper. “Right now, we’re working hard to find where that consensus lies.”