House Freedom Caucus (HFC) Chairman Mark Meadows made it clear Wednesday that the House Republican Conference could need new leadership, accusing House Speaker Paul Ryan of dragging his feet on bringing an immigration vote to the floor.
“I can say it is the defining moment for this speaker. If he gets it wrong, it will have consequences for him, but it will also have consequences for the rest of the Republican Party,” Meadows said Wednesday.
Meadows’ comment comes only days after he first hit Ryan and House Republican leadership for failing to come through on the promise to whip and bring House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s immigration bill to the House floor in January. Ryan and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise promised to start whipping the Goodlatte bill Tuesday, which is expected to move forward in the chamber this week.
The HFC chair said earlier in the week that it was “critical” the House get “ahead and work” on an immigration bill before the Senate finalizes its own version, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said must come by the time members leave Washington to head back to their districts Friday. Senators started debating an immigration deal Tuesday, but have yet to reach to a final agreement.
“We’re going to engage and hold [Ryan] to his word,” Meadows said.
Meadows and the HFC members favor an immigration bill House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte authored. Meadows said the bill emphasizes border security and does not create a pathway to citizenship.
Ryan and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise committed to whipping the Goodlatte bill Tuesday, making good on the speaker’s January commitment to HFC members.
The Goodlatte bill is more conservative than other proposals floating around the House and the White House immigration plan.
The bill would provide a pathway to legal status for the roughly 800,000 young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, know as Dreamers. It also provides funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall, largely ends chain migration (with the exception of parents) and requires employers to use the electronic verification system.
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